Austin Patrick Hall pleads not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in Brad Johnson killing
By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter MJ Miller
The man accused of killing Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brad Johnson and shooting and injuring fellow deputy Chris Poole pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect Tuesday during an arraignment at the Shelby County Jail.
Because of that plea, Austin Patrick Hall will undergo evaluations to determine if he is mentally capable of undergoing a trial. No date was set for any new hearings at the arraignment.
Johnson and Poole were shot in June 2022 during the course of a police search for Hall; Johnson later died in a hospital.
Hall is charged with three counts of capital murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle.
The arraignment was live streamed at the Bibb County Courthouse, where Johnson’s law enforcement brothers were watching.
Former Centreville Police Chief Mike Nichols said Johnson was a neighbor and a friend, and his family will always be looked after.
“They know how we all feel,” Nichols said. “Our hearts are broken over it. For Brad, of course, and for the family. And we’ve expressed that numerous times. They’re aware of our feelings.”
If Hall is found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life without parole.
Hall was out of prison because of Alabama’s now-former lax “good time” laws; in April, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Brad Johnson Act, which toughens rules and restrictions regarding how much time violent felons can have shaved off their prison sentences.
Last month, Johnson’s estate received a $1 million settlement from the state of Alabama over his death.
- Brad Johnson estate getting $1M from state in settlement over his death: July 6, 2023
- Man accused in Brad Johnson’s death indicted on capital murder charges: June 17, 2023
- Chris Poole: Brad Johnson Act ensures lives will be saved: May 4, 2023
- Alabama lawmakers vote to reduce use of good time incentives: April 12, 2023