A 10th Judicial District Court judge declined Tuesday to allow a defendant in a murder case to enter a plea in court.

Defendant, James Edward Johnson of Crossett, was arrested February 18, 2018 in connection with the death of JoAnn Reeves and charged with first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm. When Johnson appeared in court Tuesday, Judge Bynum Gibson denied the defense’s request to enter a plea agreement that was presented, citing pending motions on the case. Because the judge denied the agreement, the details were not openly disclosed.

Gibson re-set Johnson’s hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 25 pending the results of a mental evaluation.

Johnson’s arrest followed a 911 call in which he reportedly told dispatchers he had killed Reeves and shot himself. When law enforcement officers arrived at the scene of Johnson’s residence in Cooter, they reportedly found him outside the residence with a gunshot wound. Reeves was inside the residence, and pronounced dead at the scene.

In a separate murder case before the court Tuesday, Brian J. Russell had a pre-trial hearing for his case on charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and possession of a firearm by certain persons.

He was arrested in March 2018 in connection with the death of Shannon Jordan Ridener, who disappeared from the Crossett area in January 2018 and whose body was located near a bridge in a neighboring county the following month.

Russell was ordered to have a mental evulation in the fall, and following the evaluation was set for jury trial in the Ashley County Courthouse on Feb. 5.

The defense did not seek a motion for continuance at the pre-trial hearing Tuesday, and the jury trial is still set for the week of Feb. 5.

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