DAY 1: The trial of Woodmore bus driver Johnthony Walker
Walker faces six counts of vehicular homicide in the 2016 Woodmore bus crash that claimed the lives of six children.
Today, a jury of 12 women and 4 men from Montgomery County will hear the case against Woodmore bus driver Johnthony Walker.
Over the past several weeks, attorneys argued for the inclusion and exclusion of evidence surrounding both the crash and Walker's driving history.
Channel 3's Michelle Heron will be in the courtroom for trial and tweeting live updates.
5:30pm - Trial breaking for the day. Starting at 9 AM, possibly a little earlier tomorrow.
5:19pm - Defense points out Warren he didn't testify about a white bus in the preliminary hearing because he didn't hear more about it. Only one witness mentioned it, he says. Later on, he noticed frames in the bus video of a white car passing the bus. Says it's not abnormal.
5:16pm - Warren says with students on the bus, the chances of it rolling over is higher. Defense is going back to that white bus.
5:13pm - Warren testifies that marks in the roadway can happen even when a vehicle isn't speeding.
4:50pm - Warren says, "The last guy that was speeding on that road ended up in the tree."?
4:50pm - In this case, Warren couldn't use a performance computer because he would have had to go over 30 MPH. Says it wasn't safe.
4:49pm - Warren testifies, recommended methods aren't always best for real-world situations.
4:44pm - She's showing a different article from 2006 on the same topic. If you're wondering why all of this is relevant, defense claims CPD screwed up the investigation into the crash because they had their mind made up about what happened. See my tweets from her opening statements.
4:42pm - Defense is pointing to a publication about crash reconstruction, mentions a method Warren used is not recommended. Warren says he disagrees, but acknowledges author of article is entitled to their own opinion.?
4:16pm - Warren says they waited until all of the victims were gone and nonessential emergency vehicles were gone to start their investigation. ?
4:12pm - Defense is cross-examining Officer Warren.
4:05pm - Warren says the other vehicle might help explain "why the tire marks are the way they are."
4:03pm - Warren testifies there are two video screenshots of a white bus. "To my eye, it looked like a compact or crossover type vehicle. It's hard to tell what kind of vehicle passed by."
4:01pm - Warren says police were aware of another vehicle being mentioned the day of the crash. He says they looked for other tire marks but didn't see any. Also didn't see any other paint transfer to indicate another vehicle was involved.
3:58pm - Warren testifies the cameras were not rolling completely during the entire time. Not sure if that's from the crash or software.
3:56pm - Jury being shown various pictures, one of Walker sitting on the scene in an orange vest with a backpack and phone in front of him.
3:54pm - Chattanooga Police Officer Joe Warren is still on the stand.
3:53pm - Trial resuming. Judge says there was a "slight issue but it looks like everything is okay." Unsure what the issue was.
3:19pm - While court is in recess, Walker talks with his mom.
3:08pm -Court taking a break.
3:03pm - Warren says he knew the crash was serious, especially when it took up to 2 hours to get some of the children out of the bus.
2:47pm - Warren is showing the jury the certain marks on the road he testified about earlier.
2:44pm - Warren is showing how he worked backwards through evidence on and around Talley Road to piece together crash.
2:34pm - Warren says the marks on the roadway and the fact that the bus rolled over, he knew immediately speed was probably a factor in the crash. Investigation later revealed Walker was about 20 miles over the speed limit.
2:33pm - Warren talking about certain marks he noticed on Talley Road and what those marks mean the driver was doing. (Braking, steering, out of control, etc)
2:31pm - DA is now up talking to Warren, back on topic of the crash/scene.
2:29pm - Dunn asking Warren if he knows the weight of a school bus, kind of tires, PSI of tires, weight when it's loaded.
2:24pm - Defense asks for a list of Warren's training, he says he doesn't have it on him. Says this crash was the reconstruction crash with the school bus for him.
2:22pm - Warren naming certifications he has obtained, training courses he's taught, articles he's written all specific to traffic reconstruction, traffic investigations on top of 20 years of experience.
2:19pm - Defense is questioning Warren on his training/background.
2:18pm - Warren testifying about traffic reconstruction. Defense objects, saying Warren isn't an expert in traffic reconstruction.
2:05pm - Chattanooga Police Officer Joe Warren is called to the stand.
2:02pm - Defense is pointing to an affidavit.
1:59pm - Seiter says Walker was charged within 3 hours of the crash. Defense attorney points to the fact the traffic investigation into the crash "was really just beginning."
1:58pm - Seiter says Walker decided not to make a statement to police and he was then placed under arrest.
1:49pm - Chattanooga Police Officer Tommy Seiter is on the stand now. He describes Walker’s demeanor on the scene as visibly upset, crying. Said no drugs are alcohol were found in his system.
1:43pm - Johnthony Walker trial resuming after lunch.
12:18pm - Trial is breaking for lunch.
12:17pm - Defense back up. Dunn: You spoke with Ms. Nixon about the phone call and she said the call was brief? Cavitt: Yes.
12:17pm: Carrion: Would you say Mr. Walker was taking a call at the time of the crash? Cavitt: Yes.
12:15pm - Defense is finished. State is back up.
12:15pm - DUNN: No one spoke to Takisha Nixon until this month? CAVITT: Correct.
12:14pm - Dunn going to the cell phone. Says CPD had a full download of Walker’s phone within a week of the crash.
12:13pm - Cavitt testifies the time stamp on the bus video is incorrect.
12:12pm- Cavitt says no one has come forward saying they witnessed the crash.
12:11pm - Cavitt says he contacted other companies around town like Siskin to see if they had similar buses to what witnesses described. Cavitt says nothing turned up.
12:10pm - Dunn says none of the drivers from Alexian Brothers matched the description of the driver on the scene of the crash.
12:09pm - Dunn goes back to referencing witness who reported seeing white bus on the scene. Cavitt says “there was no physical evidence to support the witness statement.”
12:08pm - Defense still cross-examining Cavitt. Asking about how the documents people on a scene, what might contaminate a scene.
12:00pm - Several families are crying in the gallery. Victim advocates are trying to offer support.
11:59am - Defense is up to cross-examine Cavitt.
11:58am - Video is taken down.
11:57am - Walker goes on the bus trying to help then walks out. Defense objects that video doesn’t need to play anymore.
11:57am - Some of the children can’t move. You see people coming into the bus now to try and help. Most of the kids that could get out on their own are out.
11:55am - So hard to watch. Children are trying to find ways out of the bus, windows, the roof latch. Some ways are working, some aren’t.
11:54am - Kids exiting the bus through the windshield. The door was on the ground. Cavitt says other students were getting out through back door.
11:51am - Video has date and time stamp and shows speed of the bus. Right now, it shows 0 MPH as bus is not moving. You can hear kids getting on bus, excited after getting out of
11:49am - Bus video is being shown in the courtroom. Some viewers may find the video disturbing.
11:49am - This is one of the three angles of video police have from the bus. Cavitt says you see Walker with a cell phone in his hand as children enter the bus as the school.
11:47am - They are about the play the video from the time of the crash. Judge is giving families a chance to step out, if they want to.
11:46am - Cavitt says the cameras were working at the time of the crash.
11:46am - Cavitt talking about several cameras Durham had installed on the bus.
11:45am - Cavitt is referring to document that lists each charge with the injuries each child sustained. To make it simple, the reason for each charge.
11:42am - Cavitt looking at list of Woodmore students on the bus. Says youngest was 5 years old. Says not every student was hurt.
11:37am - Cavitt says the van was described as an Alexian Brothers van, he interviewed three drivers with that company working that day, and none of them were around Talley Road that day. Says he didn't see a white van on the scene that day.
11:36am - Cavitt describes Talley Road is a "parking lot" when he got to the scene. Says witness he interviewed several months after the crash about a white van.
11:34am - Chattanooga Police Officer Adam Cavitt is next on the stand. He was called to investigate the Woodmore bus crash after it happened.
11:31am - State calls next witness.
11:31am - Nixon says she couldn't hear kids in the background on the bus at the time of the phone call.
11:30am - Nixon says she didn't know Walker was involved in a crash. Says text messages reflect that.
11:29am - Defense is showing two text messages to the jury.
11:28am - Nixon says she doesn't believe the line hung up when talking about the duration of the call being more than 3 minutes.
11:27am - Nixon said once Walker said he was driving, that was a sign that they couldn't talk. Said she saw a friend get hit by an 18 wheeler and doesn't talk on the phone when she's driving and doesn't talk to other people when they are driving.
11:26am - Defense cross-examining Nixon. Says she called Walker that day. "It was quick." referring to the phone call.
11:25am - Phone records show Nixon was on the phone the day of the crash from 3:17-3:21 pm. "Are you driving? He said yes, I didn't hear anything so I said be careful and hung up."
11:24am - State calls Takisha Nixon to the stand. Says she was on the phone with Walker at the time of the crash. Said he said he was working but she didn’t know he was driving a bus.
11:20am - State is finished with the 2nd witness.
11:19am - Brogden says she spoke with NTSB three times after crash
11:18am - Defense is done cross-examining. State is back up.
11:18am - Brogden says no one from the police dept. reached out to her until a full year after the crash. Says investigator "doubted" her statement that there was a white bus because there wasn't any evidence of one on the scene. Brogden says she gave police a description of the driver.
11:16am - Brogden says she saw the driver of the white bus at a distance on the phone, pacing on the scene. Said he was still there when she left around 5 pm. Very interesting testimony.
11:15am - Brogden says she saw Johnthony Walker sitting on top of the bus when she got there looking down into it. She helped rescue some of the kids.
11:14am - Brogden says she didn't see white bus until after "the first skid." Said she was calling 911 and ran down to the scene immediately.
11:13am -Brogden calls white bus "mountain driving." Testifies the white bus was "riding the line." Says she was more focused on school bus.
11:12am - Just got confirmation on the correct spelling of witnesses name. It is *Michelle Brogden.*
11:10am - Defense is now cross-examining Brothden.
11:10am - Brothden says she reported the white van to police and NTSB.
11:09am - Brothden says her daughter and her father also helped out on the scene.
11:04am - WITNESS: The curve might not look like much, but it’s awkward. Saw white bus coming from opposite direction of the us.
11:03am - Brothden says she witnessed Bus 366 speeding on Talley Road.
11:02am - State calls Michelle Brothden (sp?) as next witness. Said she heard kids “squeeling” moments before the crash. Started walking toward sound. Says bus “zipped by.”
10:55am - Judge addressing comments from the gallery again. Says it's distracting.
10:52am - Coming back after the break. Johnthony Walker trial resuming.
10:32am - Defense is finished with first witness. Taking a break.
10:31am - Dunn points out Pierre's written statement to police is different from her testimony in the courtroom today. Doesn't mention stop sign intersection.
10:25am - Defense is now cross-examining Pierre.
10:25am - Pierre says not all of the kids knew telephone numbers. The woman living in the home where the yard was that became the scene of the crash allowed the ones that knew their numbers to call parents.
10:24am - Pictures show different angles of how bus crashed. Pics taken off my computer because I don’t have a lear view of projector.
10:19am - Pierre testifies she saw Walker come out of the bus, tried to open door. Other men came up to help. One picked up a little boy. "It was silent. As the kids started coming out, it was horror."
10:17am - CARRION: Were there any other vehicles involved in the crash stopped on the scene? PIERRE: No.
10:16am - CARRION: Did you see any other vehicles? PIERRE: No.
10:15am - Pierre said she stopped but didn't get out at first. Says lady came out from behind her asked her what happened, "It seems as if the bus has wrecked." Pierre says she called 911.
10:14am - Pierre: The bus was in the yard, on the left side, the second house.
10:14am - Pierre said she lost sight of the bus and then when she came down the road a little bit, she saw "a cloud of dirt in the air all the way up. It looked as if it was fire. I realized it wasn't and realized it was the bus."
10:13am - Pierre says she saw Walker's face when they met at the intersection. Says his expression was "tense." She motioned for him to turn before her. Says he took of "kind of fast." She turned behind Bus 366.
10:09am - Pierre says on the day of the crash, she got t the intersection at the same time as Bus 366. She was picking up one of her grandchildren from Woodmore that day.
10:08am - Ann Jones Pierre is first on the stand. Says her grandchildren used to go to Woodmore. Says Talley Rd. Speed limit has been reduced to 25 MPH.
10:04am - Opening statements are finished. First witness is called to the stand by the state.
10:01am- DUNN: Mr. Walker sits before you an innocent man
10:01am - DUNN: There was never an investigation into this white bus.
10:00am - Dunn says state refuses to listen to what witnesses saw that day. Mentions the white bus. This has come up in previous hearings.
9:57am - DUNN: The truth of the matter is, the officers in this case came to their conclusion. Pointing out CPD Officer Joe Warren made conclusion after seeing "one mark in the road." Had Walker in handcuffs before first test had been conducted.
9:56am - DUNN: There is no justice convicting a man based on conjecture.
9:55am - DUNN: Mr. Walker is here today so that the full story of that afternoon can be told. It's very easy to jump to conclusions.
9:54am - Dunn says bus left the roadway, rolled over on it's side and landed on a tree.
9:54am - Dunn says Walker went to Brainerd HS and picked up students. After that route, went to Woodmore to pick up elementary students.
9:53am - Dunn says Walker woke up early that day, started job on 366. Took kids to schools. Came back that afternoon to start his route.
9:53am - DUNN: When Johnthony Walker woke up that day, he had no idea of the horrible tragedy that would happen.
9:52am - State is finished with opening statements. Defense attorney Amanda Dunn is up.
9:52am - CARRION: It's important for you to know that General Pinkston and I say that Walker didn't do this intentionally. This is not that kind of case. What we are saying, is on Nov. 21, 2016, Walker had a lot of choices, chose to be reckless and chose to be on the phone and speed.
9:49am - Very hard to hear these opening statements. Carrion says the six children who were sitting in the seats where the bus wrapped around the tree "were crushed." Parents are crying silently. My heart breaks for them.
9:48am - Carrion says the bus had so much momentum, it wrapped around a tree.
9:48am - Carrion is using her hands to demonstrate how the bus lost control and crashed.
9:47am - CARRION: Walker overcorrects and goes too far over the right. The two right wheels are driving in a ditch. He's still on the phone.
9:46am - Carrion is describing Talley Road, it's 30 MPH speed limit, it's windy and narrow. Says Walker was going 50 MPH. Got to turn, was too tight for bus that size going that fast.
9:45am - CARRION: Walker decided not to take the regular bus route. He went left instead of right. He received a phone call and decided to pick up that call.
9:45am - Carrion setting the scene for the jury. Kids had just gotten out of school, laughing, joking. Getting on bus, trying to find seats. Says Walker pulled away from Woodmore Elementary like any other day.
9:43am - CARRION: Walker had one primary responsibility. To get the kids where they need to go safely. Points to following speed limit, pay attention to road and stay off phone.
9:42am - CARRION: Six sets of parents have kids who will not come home. The 31 surviving kids will live with bumps, bruises, amputated limbs, fractured spines. It all could have been avoided if Walker would have slowed down and done the speed limit and stayed off his phone.
9:42am - Opening statements are starting. Prosecutor Crystal Carrion going first. "Their kids would be crawling out of glass and blood just to get off the bus."
9:35am - This portion of the trial is part of the procedure and explains to the jury what everyone's job is in the courtroom during this trial. Dry, but important.
9:32am - Judge is explaining what "reasonable doubt" is when finding someone guilty of a charge.
9:29am - Walker's attorney Amanda Dunn says Walker is not guilty of charges against him.
9:28am - DA Neal Pinkston finishes reading all 32 charges against Johnthony Walker. Jury will have to agree to a verdict on each charge during deliberations.
9:25am - District Attorney Pinkston is still reading list of charges. Many of them represent children who were hurt in the crash along with the six children who were killed
9:19am - Along with family and various members of the community, there are several lawyers in the gallery today representing victims in civil cases.
9:15am - Walker's mom just arrived in the courtroom.
9:11am - Jury and court officers have been sworn in. This is part of court procedure. District Attorney General Neal Pinkston is now reading the indictment of charges against Walker.
9:06am - State and defense says they are both ready for trial to begin with opening statements. Jury is being brought in. They came in from Clarksville yesterday.
9:05am - Judge Don Poole asked that everyone in the courtroom be respectful of the proceedings.