HAYNEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The attorneys for a 19-year-old charged with capital murder in the slaying of an Alabama sheriff are seeking youthful-offender status, which would limit any prison time to a maximum of three years.
William Chase Johnson, who is the son of a sheriff’s deputy in a county next to where the slaying took place, has a court hearing scheduled for next Monday, the Montgomery Advertiser reported Tuesday.
Johnson was 18 when he was accused of fatally shooting Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams Sr. in the face as the sheriff was attempting to disperse loiterers at a Hayneville gas station in November 2019. An arrest warrant alleged Johnson was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the shooting.
He has been held in the Elmore County Jail since he surrendered to authorities on the night of the fatal shooting after they launched a manhunt to locate him.
Johnson’s defense attorneys have argued that the teen did not know Williams was a sheriff, though witnesses said Williams announced himself as such when he asked the crowd to disperse. Lt. Shawn Loughridge of the State Bureau of Investigation has testified that the sheriff was in an unmarked county truck and did not have his blue lights running. He was wearing a baseball cap, jacket and tan pants at the time of the shooting.
Youthful-offender status is available to suspects who were 18 to 21 years old when charged with a crime. If Johnson is not granted the status and is convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.