No plea bargain in death of bicyclist

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Daniel Johnson: Former EMT has been charged with reckless homicide in the death of Dr. Matthew Burke.

AIKEN --- No plea bargain will be offered to the motorist who police say struck and fatally injured bicyclist Dr. Matthew Burke.

The defendant, Daniel Johnson, was excused from his second court appearance Friday, said Strom Thurmond Jr., the solicitor for South Carolina's 2nd Circuit.

The court appearance is a chance for the prosecution and defense to negotiate a plea bargain before trial but in this case, none was offered. The case will now go to trial unless Johnson chooses to plead guilty.

Johnson, 41, is charged with reckless homicide in a crash that led to Burke's death.

About 6:40 p.m. Oct. 1, a group of 15 cyclists, including Burke, was riding from Augusta through South Carolina. According to police, the cyclists were northbound on Beech Island Avenue when Johnson, who lives nearby, struck Burke and four other cyclists from the rear with his Dodge Durango.

Burke, an orthopedic surgeon at Fort Gordon, suffered critical head injuries and died nearly five months later.

Johnson, a former EMT who works for Aiken County Emergency Management, has no prior criminal record. He remains free on a $50,000 bond.

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