Photo by Curt Yeomans
Johnathan Bun slouches on the witness stand in May during cross examination in his trial for killing Clayton County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Daly. Bun was convicted of the killing and will be sentenced Thursday in Superior Court.
JONESBORO — A Riverdale man is expected to be sentenced to life in prison Thursday for killing a Clayton County sheriff’s deputy more than a year ago.
Deputy Rick Daly, 55, of Zebulon, was shot and killed during a July 20, 2011, traffic stop in Riverdale. Johnathan Bun, 18, was convicted in May of Daly’s murder and faces life plus 75 years in prison.
Bun’s sentencing was delayed while attorneys waited for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether life without parole was an appropriate punishment for a youthful offenders. The justices ruled in June that sentencing a teenager convicted of murder to a mandatory life without parole sentence constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” The same court several years ago outlawed the death penalty for convicted killers under 18. Bun turned 17 two months before he killed Daly.
Rather than face sentences on more than a dozen counts, Bun’s defense attorney, Lloyd Matthews, is expected to argue that several of the charges merge into each other, according to filings in Clayton Superior Court.
For example, Matthews said a charge of aggravated assault with sheriff’s Investigator Jimmy Black as the victim should merge with a charge of aggravated assault of a peace officer with Black as the victim. Matthews also stated a charge of obstruction of an officer with Daly as the victim should merge into the malice murder count.
“The reason they merge is that the same conduct, offering violence with a deadly weapon, in this case a firearm, was the evidence for both the aggravated assaults and obstructing a peace officer,” said Matthews.
The justices took the view that teenagers are capable of being rehabilitated and should not be treated as adults.
Although Bun was just 17 at the time, his arrest for killing Daly was not his first brush with the law. His criminal history goes back to age 10, when he was referred to Clayton Juvenile Court for bringing a pocketknife to school, court records show.
Since that first encounter, Bun was in and out of Juvenile Court for years. He was even twice committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a maximum two years.
In November 2010, when he was 16, Bun was put on six months probation in South Carolina for being a minor in possession of alcohol. His probation ended May 16, 2011.
Clayton County police said that in January 2011, while on probation, Bun robbed a Forest Park store at gunpoint and made off with $200. It was because of those warrants that Daly initiated a stop July 20 on a car in which Bun was a passenger. Bun emerged from the car firing a Glock .40-caliber handgun at Daly, hitting him several times. Bun fled the scene but was found five and a half hours later less than a mile away.