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Murder suspect assigned attorneys, but no bond

SELMA – Ernest Johnson Jr. doesn’t have a bond set yet, but on Wednesday he moved one step closer.

District Judge Robert Armstrong assigned attorneys Fred McCormick and Austin Keith to serve as Mr. Johnson’s counsel.

A bond was not set, but now Mr. Johnson’s attorneys can file for a bond hearing.

A decision on the bond hearing has not been reached yet by Mr. McCormick and Mr. Keith.

District Attorney Michael Jackson said he would ask for a very high bond if a hearing is held in District Court.

Mr. Johnson, 53, was arrested Dec. 31 for at the time assault first-degree.

However, Maplesville resident Delois A. Latham, 44, died after his arrest.

Charges were upgraded from assault first-degree to capital murder.

Around 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 Delois A. Latham, 44, and her brother were in the area of Minter Avenue and Hudson Street.

Mrs. Latham and her brother were both shot while they were inside a vehicle.

The brother, a 52 year-old man from Clanton, drove Mrs. Latham to the Vaughan Regional Medical Center where she died later from the wounds she suffered from the shooting.

The reason police didn’t respond as quickly as they do usually is because Mrs. Latham was taken to the hospital by her brother, and the crime was not reported until 5 p.m. when he came to the police department, said Police Chief William Riley III.

Mr. Johnson will be charged with capital murder because he allegedly shot into a vehicle and killed someone.

Under the Code of Alabama any time a person shoots into an occupied dwelling or vehicle and kills someone, they are automatically charged with capital murder.

Mr. Johnson now faces a class-a felony charge.

Because it is a capital murder charge he could face life in prison or the death penalty if he is found guilty.