AG’s office takes over case against driver in fatal Athens ISD bus crash

AG’s office takes over case against driver in fatal Athens ISD bus crash
(Source: Arthur Clayborn/KLTV)

ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - The Henderson County District Attorney’s Office has recused itself in the case against the bus driver accused in the death of an Athens ISD student.

Jenny Palmer took over of John Franklin Stevens, 80, of the DA’s office in January. On Feb. 10, Palmer filed a motion to recuse, citing a conflict of interest. In the motion, she stated the attorney general’s office has agreed to prosecute the case.

Stevens was arrested in June 2019 on charges of criminal negligent homicide and injury to a child. The arrest came after an Athens ISD bus crashed with a train on Jan. 25, 2019. The bus had stopped before the crossing, and then Stevens drove onto the track directly in front of the westbound train, according to investigators.

Christopher Bonilla, a 13-year-old Athens Middle School student, was killed in the crash. Nine-year-old Joselyne Torres, a student from Central Athens Elementary, was injured when she was trapped inside the bus.

Stevens was previously set for a court hearing on Wednesday. That date has been reset to June 7.

Copyright 2021 KLTV. All rights reserved.