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Accused of beating dog to death, Prichard man now charged with gun offense

Federal magistrate judge orders Jeremy Johnson detained pending trial on new indictment
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A Prichard man accused of fatally beating a dog earlier this month has been ordered jailed pending trial a federal gun charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bradley Murray ruled that Jeremy Johnson’s history indicates that he poses a risk of not complying with conditions of release and is a threat to the public. He faces a federal charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

That charge stems from a traffic stop in 2020. Johnson was a passenger in Mitsubishi Mirage that a Mobile police officer pulled over after noticing it had an expired tag. According to testimony from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, Johnson was sitting on a loaded gun with a round in the chamber. He admitted twice that the gun and a bookbag with drugs belonged to him, according to the ATF agent.

The agent also testified that Johnson admitted to past ties to the Bloods street gang, although she added that the defendant maintained that he no longer belongs to the organization.

Prosecutors on Tuesday argued that Johnson’s criminal record not only prohibited him from having a firearm but also indicated that he was a danger to the public if released pending trial. That record includes convictions for second-degree robbery, second-degree receiving stolen property, distribution of drugs and second-degree assault.

“His history is significant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Bishop Ravenel said. “Violent drug dealing. He killed a dog and attempted to kill a second dog.”

Assistant Federal Defender Colin Fitzpatrick downplayed his client’s record and the latest gun charge.

“In this particular case, it wasn’t brandished,” he said. “It wasn’t pointed at anyone.”

Fitzpatrick also said that the majority of Johnson’s criminal history was “stale.” The robbery, for instance, dates back more than two decades to when Johnson was a younger, less mature man, the attorney argued.

Johnson faces a state court aggravated animal cruelty charge in connection to the dog’s death. Prichard police accuse him of using a shovel to beat the chained dog in front of children. The ATF agent testified Tuesday that Jones attacked a second chained dog but that people nearby restrained him.

When questioned by the authorities, the ATF agent testified, Johnson said that the dog was his and that he could do anything he wanted with it. The agent also testified that he told investigators that he loved the do more than humans.

Fitzpatrick noted that a Mobile County district judge felt comfortable in setting a $1,000 bail in the animal cruelty case.

“He needs to get back to his painting job so that he can make payments on his mortgage,” he said.

But the federal judge said he did not believe there were conditions of release that would protect the public and ensure Johnson appeared for future court hearings.

“The government’s case appears to be strong,” Murray said during the hearing.

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