Driver gets bond in cyclist's death

Lawyer: Man's only record is one of service

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AIKEN --- Daniel Johnson shuffled into the small courtroom Wednesday, eyes focused on the floor, then on Magistrate Bond Judge Danny Lynn.

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Daniel Johnson (right) walks into a courtroom for a bond hearing Wednesday at the Aiken County Bond Court. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with reckless homicide in an October crash that killed a bicyclist.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Daniel Johnson (right) walks into a courtroom for a bond hearing Wednesday at the Aiken County Bond Court. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with reckless homicide in an October crash that killed a bicyclist.

He listened in silence as attorney Jim Huff argued why he should be released on his own recognizance for reckless homicide. Johnson is charged in the Oct. 1 wreck that killed a bicyclist, Dr. Matthew Burke, on Beech Island Avenue.

Johnson, 41, has lived in the county 31 years. He's a Sunday school teacher. He coaches the church's volleyball team. He's a former EMT who works for Aiken County Emergency Management.

"His whole life has been to serve the county," Huff said.

Lynn considered Johnson's background and lack of a criminal record in setting a bond of $50,000. As conditions of the bond, Johnson cannot make contact with the family of Burke, either personally or through a third party.

Johnson surrendered Tuesday night at the Aiken County Detention Center after a warrant was issued for a charge of reckless homicide.

Johnson, who lives in the 400 block of Beech Island Avenue, struck five cyclists with his Dodge Durango about 6:40 p.m. four months ago. Burke, 38, was critically injured and died Sunday evening.

The arrest warrant says that the group of about 15 cyclists was "legally in the roadway" and that Johnson's driving was "grossly negligent which caused the death of Mr. Matthew Burke."

On Wednesday, Huff called the incident "a very sad accident."

The South Carolina Highway Patrol finished its investigation "several weeks ago," 2nd Circuit Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. said Wednesday.

Thurmond said a charge of reckless driving was possible, but if Johnson pleaded guilty or was convicted of the charge, it would have made it much harder to press the current charge of reckless homicide.

"A double jeopardy argument could have been made," said Thurmond, referring to the constitutional amendment that protects citizens from being charged with the same crime twice.

He said his office was "certainly hoping" Burke would recover, but added, "It's illogical to serve a warrant for reckless homicide if the victim is still alive."

Asked about a reckless driving charge for the four other cyclists injured, Thurmond said that was a decision to be made on the magistrate level.

Sid Gaulden, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, didn't have an immediate answer Wednesday about the potential for other charges.

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InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 11:24 pm
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"he will not save us, he says

"he will not save us, he says we will save ourselves" (Not sure where you get your information)

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

nohopeforbi
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nohopeforbi 02/11/11 - 11:50 pm
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I am Shinto, but I remember

I am Shinto, but I remember in your old testement it would be found in the book of revelations.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/12/11 - 09:46 am
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nohopeforbi, I do believe you

nohopeforbi, I do believe you are mistaken but if you could post chapter and verse in Revelations it would be helpful for verification. Also the book of Revelations is in the New Testament, not the Old Testament. In Ephesians which is also in the New Testament, God's own words says salvation is a gift from God and not by our works so I would have to disagree that we save ourselves.

Beattybugs
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Beattybugs 02/12/11 - 10:31 am
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Lawyer: "Man's only record is

Lawyer: "Man's only record is one of service."
No longer true.
Now the people will decide how this careless, indifferent man should be punished.
Why hasn't he been charged with negligent driving for ramming into the other bikers?
Can anyone answer that?
Why has this whole process been shrouded in secrecy?
All the facts have been known for months and yet there has been no communication from the prosecutor's office.

elvis1
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elvis1 02/12/11 - 12:01 pm
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Stairway to nowhere, a civics

Stairway to nowhere, a civics lesson. Court is a defense and a prosecution each advocating for their side (one-sided) with the belief that the truth will come out in this fight. Truth is discovered in an adversarial process. That is the court system we have. Further as a society we do not buy rights. That is what separates us as a great democracy. We protect rights of all people. By paying taxes on your car, you do not get an exclusive right to the road. Your problem is with the tax system which may not be fair, but the only way to make it fairer is to have more taxes, such as for bikers, walkers, people that use civic owned parks, forests etc. Re-writting the tax code as pay-to-use in a purely capitalist sense may have merit. Don't confuse capitalism with democracy. People in my community find more tax laws to be an overstepping by the government, creating a huge bureaucracy that by nature impinges on their rights and is in need of simplification (which is an implied accepting of the unfairness that comes with it). While this argument may seem off topic, bicycles have a legislated right to be on the road, enforceable by law, regardless of the tax code...period With that right comes the responsibility to obey applicable laws.

trustingmyGod
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trustingmyGod 02/12/11 - 12:45 pm
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My heart is breaking for this

My heart is breaking for this family. My prayer is for God to wrap his loving arms around them as they say goodbye to Husband, father, son, and brother. This young man's life was cut way too short in our eyes, but in the eyes of our Heavenly Father Dr. Burke's life is only just beginning. I pray you find peace that surpasses all understanding in our precious father's love for you. God be with you today and always.

ABCDEFG
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ABCDEFG 02/12/11 - 01:23 pm
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Trustingmygod, THANK YOU !

Trustingmygod, THANK YOU !

Greg Burlingame
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Greg Burlingame 02/14/11 - 09:13 pm
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I want to thank Mr. Strom

I want to thank Mr. Strom Thurman for doing his job on the conviction of Daniel Johnson. I urge all to applaud him for not giving in to pressure, so that the maximum charge could be administered. Justice is being served, thankyou. Bad choices = bad consequences, hopefully people will learn from this and this won't happen again. Such a sad, sad time.
I pray that peace comes to that peaceful (and not "busy") street and neighbors, cyclists, joggers, walkers, respect each other and live together.

MattCliett
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MattCliett 02/14/11 - 11:08 pm
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There are pains on both sides

There are pains on both sides of this. No one knows the truth about what happened that night but God and the few involved. All the thoughts of what happened are unnecessary. I can't tell you what happened that night and neither can you. All I can tell you is what I know about Daniel Johnson. Hes always been like a big brother, all my life I've seen Danny help everyone he could in anyway he could. He was also there to aid my Daddy while he was dying. I know Danny and for the charges against are completely UNBELIEVABLE !!!!!!!!!!!! I do pray for Mr. Burke's family.
I am also praying for the Johnson family and that the truth come out. Its a very bad thing that has happened. To everyone involved I'm praying for you. Danny I know in my heart you didn't do this and I will always be by your side.

Greg Burlingame
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Greg Burlingame 02/15/11 - 10:05 am
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Matt, You need to come to the

Matt, You need to come to the realization that Danny hit my nephew Matt and he is dead. Facts are Danny was driving a vehicle and Matt was riding a bycicle. Danny should have slowed down and followed at a safe distance and then passed at a safe distance when there was no cars coming in the opposite direction. Matt, there are witnesses that also were hurt by Danny's bad decision, some very seriously. When you get your driving liscense, remember this time and how you felt when your dad died. We (Dr. Matt's family, especially his wife Bonnie) are feeling like that now. Remember Matt, bad decisions can hurt you and alot of other people. God be close to us all.

MattCliett
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MattCliett 02/18/11 - 07:54 pm
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Greg, first thing I'm 30

Greg, first thing I'm 30 years old. You can only go by what you have heard. You don't know the truth and neither do I. All I was saying is that I've known Danny for all my life and he is not a bad or mean person. I do feel for the Burke family. Your comments to me are not acceptable. No one should be judged. No one has the right to say bad things about Danny.

Beattybugs
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Beattybugs 02/20/11 - 10:36 am
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Matt, Mr. Johnson may or may

Matt, Mr. Johnson may or may not be a mean or a bad person.
As a member of civilized society we all need to be held accountable for our actions. Without accountability we would live in a world of chaos.
Mr. Johnson's actions that fateful day will now be reviewed in a court of law and a jury of his peers will decide his punishment.

Greg Burlingame
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Greg Burlingame 02/22/11 - 08:15 am
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If no one is judged for his

If no one is judged for his or her actions, can you imagine the chaos? A person could do as they darn well pleased and not be judged for it. Sorry for misjudging your age.

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