Man admits to killing Alabama police officer during car chase, avoids death penalty, instead gets 25 years in prison

Published 2:22 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A man charged with capital murder in the killing of an Alabama police officer who was shot to death during a chase in 2020 avoided a potential death penalty by pleading guilty to a reduced charge.

Preston Johnson, 39, of Addison pleaded guilty to intentional murder on Monday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the killing of Nick O’Rear, an officer with the Kimberly Police Department in Jefferson County north of Birmingham, news outlets reported.

The sentence will run consecutively with a 16-year term he received in a federal firearms case.

Police tried to stop a BMW driven by Johnson on Interstate 65 after they spotted it moving erratically, testimony showed. O’Rear was driving in front of the vehicle in an attempt to slow it down when he was struck in the head by a rifle shot fired from the BMW, evidence showed, and another police car also was hit.

O’Rear was the father of two children, and his girlfriend was pregnant at the time of his death.