Driver in deadly school bus crash requests probation

Johnthony Walker

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The driver in a Tennessee school bus crash that killed six elementary school students in November formally asked a judge to offer him probation and dismissal of his case.

Johnthony Walker’s attorney made the case for judicial diversion Thursday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Walker’s court filings say there’s no public interest in incarcerating someone with no prior criminal record who was working two jobs to provide for his family. They also claimed Walker was trying to avoid a collision with another vehicle at the time of the crash.

Prosecutors said Walker isn’t even eligible for diversion until he first pleads or is found guilty. The judge agreed, ultimately denying Walker’s request, The Times Free Press reported.

“Based upon the charges, he appears to be eligible, but under the laws that exist, he is not a qualified candidate,” Judge Don Poole stated.

Walker faces 34 charges, including six vehicular homicide counts, and remains in jail.

Tennessee’s court system says more than 6,000 cases resulted in pre-trial or judicial diversion in 2015-16, including 16 for homicide.