Alabama teen who killed two in 90 mph wreck got ‘somewhere between slap on wrist and exacting a pound of flesh’

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a teenager in connection with the 2019 crash that killed Auburn University sports announcer Rod Bramblett.

News outlets reported that the sentence for Johnston Edward Taylor, 18, was not released because he was granted youthful offender status. The status can be granted to defendants younger than 21 and can result in reduced penalties than if they had been sentenced as an adult.

Taylor had faced two counts of reckless manslaughter for the 2019 crash that killed Bramblett and his wife Paula. Taylor was 16 at the time of the crash. As a youthful offender, Taylor had faced a maximum sentence of three years.

“The sentence imposed was somewhere between a slap on the wrist and exacting a pound of flesh,” Taylor’s lawyer, Tommy Spina, told The Opelika-Auburn News. “It was between those two extremes.”

Spina told the newspaper that he was limited on what he could say about the case because of Taylor’s status as a youthful offender.

Lee County District Attorney Pro Tem Jessica Ventiere declined to comment on the case.

Authorities allege Taylor was driving about 90 mph (145 kph) in a 55 mph (90 kph) zone when he rear-ended the Brambletts’ vehicle in Auburn. Bramblett and his wife Paula were killed, but Taylor wasn’t seriously injured.

“At the time of the accident, the defendant was a 16-year-old teenager with no prior criminal history, who had smoked or used marijuana and had been diagnosed with marijuana use disorder,” Judge P.B McLauchlin wrote in the order granting youthful offender status to Taylor. “None of this justifies what happened; however, it does lend itself to treatment as a youthful offender.”