Meridian Star

March 12, 2014

Man wanted on murder charge turns self in

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston

    A Lauderdale County man wanted for murder in Alabama turned himself in to law enforcement authorities in Clarke County and will be extradited back to Alabama to face charges.

    Randolf County, Ala., Chief Dep. Billy Lane said Tuesday afternoon the department and the family members of the victims are relieved to finally have Steven Ladel Johnson in custody and heading back to there to face charges.

    "It is the not knowing when or if someone will be held accountable for their alleged crimes that makes things stressful for us and the family," Lane said. "We informed the family just as soon as we got off the phone from the authorities with the Clarke County Sheriff's Department Monday evening and they were relieved he is now in custody; as we are. We appreciate the work all the agencies associated with this incident have done."

    Johnson, a 34-year-old truck driver, was wanted on a charge of murder, two counts of assault in the first degree and one count of assault in the third degree. These charges stem from a two vehicle crash in which authorities allege Johnson was driving a big rig in Randolf County when he drifted into the oncoming lane and slammed into a car, killing a woman and injuring three other people. Lane said the accident occurred in August of 2013 on Highway 431.

    "All of the victims were in one car," Lane said. "Johnson was pulling a cattle trailer at the time."

    Lauderdale County Chief Dep. Ward Calhoun said Tuesday morning Johnson was believed to be staying at a house in Clarke County. After much negotiation over the telephone, Calhoun said Johnson decided to turn himself in to Clarke County Sheriff's Department authorities Monday evening.

    Lane said Johnson has waived extradition. Lane said a car from his department will make the four hour trip to Clarke County today to pick up Johnson and return him to Randolf County.

    Lane said Johnson's bond has already been set at $250,000. Lane said Johnson's arraignment date is set for March 24.