Johnson Bound Over To District Court For Trial; He Tried To Stab Trooper, Motorist
A Gillette man will face trial in Natrona County District Court for felony drug possession, robbery, and trying to stab a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper and a motorist last week.
James Johnson, 22, waived his preliminary hearing in Natrona County Circuit Court on Thursday. A preliminary hearing is held to determine whether probable cause exists that a crime was committed and the accused committed it.
Johnson, who lives in Gillette, faces two counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of possession of a controlled substance. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison on each of the aggravated assault charges, between five and 25 years on the aggravated robbery charge, and up to seven years for the drug charge.
Johnson's public defender Rob Oldham asked Circuit Court Judge Brian Christensen to lower his bond from $50,000.
"If he did bond out, he'd be staying with his sister, and he he explained to me, she's a normal person," Oldham said.
But assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen said Johnson committed the alleged assaults when he was under the influence of methamphetamine and while he was out on probation for burglary. That probation is in the process of being revoked, Itzen added.
Christensen agreed with Itzen, saying the aggravated robbery charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
The case began last week about 6:30 p.m. May 11 when a trooper saw Johnson parked on Interstate 25 about 20 miles north of Casper. The trooper approached Johnson to assist with vehicle problems, according to court documents.
The trooper learned that there was an arrest warrant out of Gillette for Johnson for driving under suspension.
When the trooper told him about the warrant, Johnson retrieved a knife from his vehicle, and lunged at the trooper with the weapon.
Johnson began running away, stopped another motorist, and tried to pull open the door to try to get a ride.
The motorist tried to hold Johnson for the trooper. Johnson was able to break free and tried to attack the motorist with the knife.
The motorist began driving and Johnson held on to the vehicle until the driver stopped a short distance later.
Johnson then was taken into custody.
Troopers later found 22.5 grams of methamphetamine in the trunk of Johnson's vehicle.
Prosecutors also reported Johnson was on probation for an unrelated case, and has failed to appear in court on 12 occasions.