CRIME

Deadly Tenn. school bus crash case heads to grand jury

24-year-old Johnthony Walker was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide

 

The case of the driver accused in a school bus crash that killed six children in Tennessee will go to a grand jury, a judge in Hamilton County ruled Thursday.

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Johnthony Walker, 24, was driving about 20 mph above the 30 mph speed limit, police said. Two children were still recovering in a hospital after the Nov. 21 crash on a curved road in Chattanooga.

Walker, who appeared in court in a red jail jumpsuit, faced charges of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. His attorney, Amanda Dunn, has said he likely would plead not guilty.

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The grand jury could choose to keep or add to the charges against Walker, analysts say. 

Police said Walker was using a cellphone before the crash. His lawyer, Amanda Dunn, questioned Chattanooga traffic officer Joe Warren about that.

The officer acknowledged that a camera inside the bus showed Walker using his phone while the bus was stopped, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Several family members of the children killed were in court Thursday. Some were crying when Warren discussed the bus's speed.

Dunn told the judge there was evidence yet to be submitted that suggested differing versions of what happened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.