UPDATE: Grant County man charged in Holmen chase/crash ruled com - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATE: Grant County man charged in Holmen chase/crash ruled competent

Posted:

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The Grant County man charged last month in connection with the death of a cab driver is competent to continue legal proceedings against him. 

In La Crosse County Circuit Court Wednesday, members of the Wisconsin Forensic Unit reported their findings about Timmy Johnson.  Last month, Judge Todd Bjerke ordered the evaluation of Johnson. Despite the report, Timmy Johnson's attorney said he is worried about his client's  mental health.

Defense Attorney Vincent Rust said, "I have significant concerns about Mr. Johnson's mental health. I believe he is competent. I think it's clear from the evaluation that he has had prior hospitalizations, that there had been prior suicide attempts. There has been a suicide attempt while he was in jail."

Johnson will appear in court for a preliminary hearing July 16.

He is accused of beating cab driver Merle Forbes of Platteville, putting him in the trunk of the cab, and driving off.  Johnson was stopped near Holmen after a police chase that started in La Crosse. Forbes died from injuries sustained in the assault according to autopsy results.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The attorney for the Grant County man facing possible homicide charges in the beating death of a cab driver wants his client to undergo a mental competency evaluation.

The request came during a court appearance Thursday.

Timmy Johnson, 25, of Lancaster faces multiple felony charges in La Crosse County, but prosecutors have not yet filed homicide charges.

Police say Johnson beat cab driver Merle Forbes and stole his cab last week,  then led police on a high speed chase through La Crosse that ended in Holmen.

Forbes died from injuries from the assault according to La Crosse County Medical Examiner Tim Candahl.

Johnson is scheduled to appear in court again in July.

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A 79-year-old taxi driver discovered in a trunk of a car following a crash in Holmen died from injuries sustained in an assault, according to La Crosse County Medical Examiner Tim Candahl.

Candahl said preliminary autopsy results shows the cause, but a final autopsy won't be complete for a few weeks.

The Grant County Sheriff's Department issued a missing and endangered person alert for Merle Forbes Thursday.  Forbes is a taxi driver from Platteville. 

On Friday shortly after 1 a.m., a La Crosse Police officer noticed a suspicious vehicle in the area of 7th and La Crosse Streets. The officer ran the registration plate of the car and learned that the vehicle matched the one wanted by Grant County.

Police said the officer attempted to stop the driver of the car since he did not fit the description of the cars owner but the driver took off onto Copeland Ave. The pursuit continued north through La Crosse and onto Highway 35 through Onalaska. Police said as the fleeing car entered into Holmen, the driver hit another vehicle from behind, causing the stolen vehicle to go off the road and roll over.

During the investigation of the crash, Forbes was found in the trunk of the car.  He was pronounced dead at the scene. Candahl said preliminary autopsy results show Forbes died from injuries sustained during an assault.  He did not say what those injuries were.

The driver of the stolen car, Timmy Lansing Johnson Jr. from Lancaster, WI, was arrested.  He appeared in La Crosse County Court Monday. 

Johnson had just been released on Thursday from the Grant County jail, after serving a 90 day sentence for a previous conviction. Assistant District Attorney Jessica Skemp spoke on behalf of the state in court, she said that homicide charges will likely be filed against Johnson.

Police reports read in court said that Johnson robbed and stabbed the cab driver in Grant County then drove to La Crosse.

Judge Todd Bjerke set bond for Johnson at $500,000 cash. Skemp asked for a significant bond because of Johnson's criminal past.

"He's very unlikely to comply with any non monetary conditions of bond that are designed to protect safety and he is a clear risk to not appear should he be released," said Skemp.

Skemp said that Johnson has been arrested in four different states including California, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

He has current pending cases in Lafayette County, including three felonies. He was charged there with two counts of vehicle theft and eight counts of felony bail jumping.

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