Man pleads guilty to killing beloved school crossing guard

Conviction took 3.5 years
Posted at 3:36 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 17:18:26-04

A Clearwater man will spend 18 years in prison for hitting and killing a beloved school crossing guard. Julious Johnson pleaded guilty Tuesday three and a half years after he caused an accident that killed Doug Carey at Gulf to Bay and Belcher Road. 

Johnson had quite a few words for the judge before he was sentenced.

When asked if he was satisfied with the representation of his attorney he said, “I feel sorry that this lady’s husband is gone. I can’t take him back and I did not intentionally do that but I feel like I’m coming in court and you’re all looking at me like I woke up and said ‘I’m going to kill this man or something.’”

He also said 18 years was too harsh of a punishment, “I feel like everybody is looking at me like I’m a bad guy and they’re going to slam me. Giving me 40 or 50 years isn’t going to bring nobody back. I’ve got a family too. I’ve got a child I ain't even touched yet.”

Pinellas Circuit judge William Burgess III told Johnson he should be more than satisfied with a sentence of 18 years in prison.

“Based on what I know, Mr. Johnson you are in the best position right now rather than if you’d leave it up to me. This is a very generous offer,” Burgess explained.

The collision happened on May 20, 2014. Johnson ran a red light at the intersection of Gulf to Bay and Belcher going 70 miles per hour when he collided with another car that hit Doug Carey. Carey was a long time police officer with Clearwater Police and was loved by children and parents alike.

Johnson also plead guilty to leaving behind his two injured daughters, ages 2 and 4, in the car as he ran away from the scene of the accident. Officers later found marijuana in the car. 

Carey’s widow Jean asked the prosecutor to read a statement in court saying, "Nothing can bring our husband, father, grandfather back, but you can honor a man who spent his life helping others by ensuring Mr. Johnson doesn't hurt anyone else."

Norman Runkles, a supervisor for Clearwater’s school crossing guard program held back tears as he remembered his dear friend.

“It’s not a great day to have to come to court and come through this but in the end, it has been a good day. I’ll never forget Doug’s smile. He was always smiling,” he said with emotion. 

Runkles also read a statement in court which he says took him two years to write, “I thought about what I would say for two years. Today is closure.”