William Johnson murder trial postponed to late 2023

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The murder trial of William Chase Johnson, 19, accused in the slaying of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams has been delayed until late 2023.

Johnson is charged with shooting Williams in the line of duty on Nov. 23, 2019. Williams, 62, was killed trying to disburse a large crowd at the QV convenience store on the corner of Highway 21 and Highway 97, near the Lowndes County Courthouse in Hayneville.

Retired Escambia County Circuit Judge Bert Rice will preside over the hearing and was appointed after local judges Adrian Johnson and Terry Lovell recused themselves due 

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer’s office requested a status hearing and met with Rice.

After hearing from prosecutors and the defense, Rice set Johnson’s trial for Oct. 10, 2023.

A third defense attorney, Terry Luck, was added to Johnson’s defense team. Attorneys expect the trial to be moved, but the defense has not yet filed a motion to change the venue.

Attorney General Steve Marshall is partnering with Tesmer to try Johnson’s case.

Tesmer said Marshall called and to extend his office’s help with the case, offering resources and a team of attorneys.

The case is under a gag order, which means neither prosecutors nor the defense may comment outside court filings.

Johnson, who was 18 at the time of William’s slaying, is being held at the Elmore County Jail without bond under charges of capital murder.

If convicted, Johnson facing sentencing of life in prison without possibility of parole or the death penalty.

And while the defense has filed a motion to remove the death penalty from consideration, Rice has not yet ruled on the request.