Charge upgraded to capital murder against suspect in sheriff’s death

Charge upgraded to capital murder against suspect in sheriff’s death
William Chase Johnson was taken into custody and booked in the Elmore County Jail. (Source: Elmore County Jail)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The suspect in Lowndes County Sheriff John “Big John” Williams’ shooting death has now been charged with capital murder.

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer said Tuesday that a capital murder warrant has been signed against William Chase Johnson. Johnson was originally charged with murder.

According to the capital statute in Alabama law, it’s a capital offense to kill a law enforcement officer on duty, regardless of whether the defendant knew the victim was a peace officer at the time of the offense. WSFA 12 News is working to confirm if the state could seek the death penalty in this case due to Johnson’s age.

Sheriff Williams was shot and killed at a QV gas station in Hayneville on the night of Nov. 23. Johnson was taken into custody at the same gas station after a nearly four-hour manhunt, according to law enforcement.

Johnson made his initial appearance in court the morning of Nov. 25. Crenshaw County District Judge Tom Sport was appointed to preside over the case after Lowndes County District Judge Adrian Johnson recused because he was present at the crime scene.

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

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Johnson is the son of one of its deputies.

Johnson is being held in the Elmore County Jail without bond.

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