Accused Waffle House killer asks judge about death penalty - - The News for South Mississippi

Accused Waffle House killer asks judge about death penalty

Johnny Max Mount (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.) Johnny Max Mount (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

Bond remains at $2 million for the man accused of gunning down a Waffle House employee.

Johnny Mount made his initial court appearance Monday morning at the Harrison County jail courtroom.

The 45-year-old showed little emotion during the court appearance, which lasted less than 10 minutes. Mount was read his rights, informed of the charge against him and told the court would appoint him an attorney.     

Mount walked into the jailhouse courtroom with a noticeable limp. He has a prosthetic leg and is being housed in the medical unit at the Harrison County jail.

The defendant told the judge he is retired, receives $700 to $800 a month in social security and has never been convicted of a felony.

Judge Albert Fountain informed the defendant of the crime he is charged with: first degree murder for the killing of 52-year-old Julie Brightwell, who was shot in the head following a dispute with the defendant over smoking inside the restaurant.

During the brief hearing, the defendant said to the judge, “May I ask a question? Is the death penalty involved with this?”

Judge Fountain then briefly explained the law as it relates to capital murder cases. In this instance, the defendant faces a single count of first degree murder; and it is not a death penalty case. Mount then asked when he could speak to his lawyer. 

Judge Fountain says a preliminary hearing should take place in the next two to three weeks.

A makeshift memorial still sits outside the Waffle House, where friends and customers of the victim have left condolences. A candlelight vigil will be held in her honor Friday night on the beach in Biloxi across from the restaurant where she lost her life. 

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