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Hearing set for suspect in sheriff’s slaying

A preliminary hearing has been set for early next year for the teen suspect accused of shooting and killing Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams.

William Chase Johnson, 18, will appear on Jan. 6 in Lowndes County District Court to face a charge of capital murder in the Nov. 23 shooting.

Johnson, the son of a Montgomery County sheriff’s Office deputy was initially charged with murder and District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer said earlier this month that charge had been upgraded to capital murder.

Alabama law states that it is a capital offense to kill a law enforcement officer on duty regardless of whether the defendant knew he was an officer at the time of the offense.

Williams was shot and killed Nov. 23 in the parking lot of the QV gas station in Hayneville.

He was taken into custody less than four hours later after a manhunt, when he showed up at the scene.

On Dec. 2, more than 2,000 people attended Williams’ funeral at the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery.

Johnson was being held in the Elmore County Jail and made his initial appearance in Lowndes County District Court on Nov. 25. 

He was ordered held with no bond.

Crenshaw County District Judge Tom Sport was appointed to preside over the case after Lowndes County District Judge Adrian Johnson recused himself because he was present at the crime scene.

Sport issued a gag order in the case, which prevents those involved from making public statements to the media.