Austin Shane Bonner pleads not guilty connection with 2015 shooting death of Josh Bearden

Austin Shane Bonner (left) was found guilty of capital murder Friday in connection with the shooting death of Josh Bearden. 

TALLADEGA -- Witness testimony in the capital murder trial of Austin Shane Bonner, 21, continued all day Wednesday and is expected to resume Thursday starting at 8:30 a.m.

Much of Thursday’s testimony is expected to come from experts with the Alabama Department of Forensic Science.

Much of the testimony Wednesday was taken up with a former Talladega County Sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a domestic violence call involving the victim in the case, Joshuwah Bearden, and his ex-wife, Lindsey Bonner. Lindsey Bonner is the aunt of the defendant.

The same deputy also answered a shots fired call at Bearden’s residence a few days before Bearden was killed. He said Bearden had been taking target practice in his yard, but they had talked for some time afterward. Bearden told the deputy his ex-wife’s father, a Coosa County Sheriff’s deputy, and another man had come to his house while in uniform and assaulted him.

This deputy was the first officer on the scene the night of Bearden’s shooting, and his body camera recorded early interactions with the suspect, his aunt, his grandmother and other law enforcement officers.

The recording, which lasted more than an hour, also documented a confrontation between the deputy and someone from the County Line Volunteer Fire Department, who drove through the crime scene even after being told to move his vehicle away from it.

A good bit of Wednesday’s testimony was taken up with the deputy’s cross examination by defense attorney Jon Adams, who replayed most of the body cam recording, stopping it every few seconds to ask questions or seek comment about what had been said on the tape.

In part, Adams seemed to be attempting to show what he characterized as a “rush to judgement” on the part of law enforcement in the case by pointing out information the deputy had initially gotten wrong (saying Austin Bonner, who told the dispatcher he had shot Bearden, was Bearden’s ex-brother-in-law, which he was not) or statements he made that were inconsistent with later evidence or statements.

Adams also asked several times if the stress of the situation might have caused the deputy to forget things or become confused, implying the same might be said for members of the Bonner family.

Testimony was also taken Wednesday from two state’s witnesses who had heard the defendant say he was going to kill Bearden at his first opportunity.

There was also testimony from a DNA expert who identified Bearden as being the source of two blood stains on the pavement of the crime scene and identified Bearden’s and another person’s DNA on a .22 caliber projectile found in the truck where Bearden was killed.

Bearden was unarmed at the time of his death, and no weapon was recovered in the vehicle or on his person, although there was a .22 revolver in his house, according to testimony.

A state toxicology expert said there was no evidence of alcohol in Bearden’s system, although he did have Hydrocodone in his system at the time. Previous witness testimony indicated Bearden had been prescribed Hydrocodone for pain from an old injury for several years.

The day closed with chain of custody testimony regarding the physical evidence from the scene by Capt. Mike Jones of the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office.

The state is not seeking the death penalty in this case. The Talladega County District Attorney’s Office recused itself, so the case is being prosecuted by Brynn Crane and Marcus Reid of Etowah County.

Circuit Judge Chad Woodruff is presiding over the case.

 

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