Teen involved in crash that killed Auburn broadcaster, wife granted youthful offender status, face reduced punishment

Published 6:35 am Thursday, April 15, 2021

An 18-year-old charged in the wreck that killed an Auburn University broadcaster and his wife will face reduced punishment after being granted youthful offender status.

Johnston Edward Taylor can receive a maximum sentence of three years following the decision by a Circuit Judge P.B. McLauchlin judge in Opelika on Tuesday. A plea hearing is set for April 28 in Lee County, his decision showed.

Taylor originally was charged as an adult with reckless homicide in a crash that killed Rod and Paula Bramblett in May 2019 when he was 16. A conviction can carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Evidence showed Taylor was driving about 90 mph and had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash, which occurred at an intersection near campus.

McLauchlin ruled that Taylor deserved youthful offender status because he had no criminal history, but he did have two prior juvenile adjudications for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia and had been diagnosed with marijuana use disorder.

Defense lawyer Tommy Spina previously called Taylor a “very troubled young man” who needed help. Taylor’s bond was revoked seven months after the crash because of traffic citations for speeding and reckless driving, and he completed an in-patient rehabilitation program.

Court documents show prosecutors asked a court to again revoke Taylor’s bond last month after he tested positive for alcohol use during three drug screenings, but the defense blamed the results on Taylor’s use of allergy medication and other, legal drugs, news outlets reported. Taylor takes sleep medication because of post-traumatic stress syndrome linked to the crash and depression linked to the effects of the wreck on the Bramblett family, the defense argued in court documents.

Bramblett had worked as the lead announcer for Auburn football, men’s basketball and baseball since 2003.