TWIN FALLS — A man suspected of shooting and killing a man Friday outside his home was charged Tuesday with illegally owning a firearm as a convicted felon, but prosecutors say he could face more serious charges.
Billy Duane Johnson, 45, of Twin Falls is suspected of shooting and killing William Newton Scott, 38, of Twin Falls. Scott was shot in the chest about 6:45 p.m. May 26 outside Johnson’s home at 146 Addison Ave. W. He died about 15 minutes later despite the life-saving efforts of police, paramedics and firefighters.
Prosecutors and police have given few details of the shooting itself, but during Johnson’s initial appearance Tuesday in Twin Falls County Magistrate Court, it became clear he could face manslaughter or murder charges.
Johnson was arraigned on a felony count of unlawful possession of a firearm, but Magistrate Judge Thomas Kershaw started the hearing this way: “I’m told there may be other charges, but none has been filed to my knowledge other than this one.”
While making bond argument, Twin Falls County Deputy Prosecutor Kiel Willmore confirmed Johnson is the primary suspect in Scott’s death and that he could be charged for the slaying.
“The defendant is the alleged shooter,” Willmore told Kershaw. “We would ask that based on the extenuating circumstances of this case, and the current ongoing investigation of whether to pursue ongoing more serious charges, that $500,000 would be appropriate.”
Kershaw instead set bond at $100,000 after denying Johnson the public defender and questioning him about his criminal history.
“My family all lives here in Twin Falls,” Johnson told the judge. “I would never run for any reason whatsoever.”
Kershaw noted Johnson has a lengthy criminal history, though most of his convictions were for misdemeanor crimes in the early 2000s. A 2004 felony conviction for battery or assault on a law enforcement officer is the crime that precluded him from owning or possessing a firearm, but his record is relatively clear over the past five years.
“I’ve totally changed,” Johnson said, noting he’s worked at Amalgamated Sugar for 12 years. “I’m not that person back in the past at all.”
Johnson’s own defense stood in stark contrast to the way Willmore painted him as a “dangerous individual” who unsurprisingly caused harm Friday based on his “disposition and character.”
Johnson also seemed to be attempting to explain what led to Friday’s shooting, saying his family is in hiding and his wife has been living at a motel — possibly a reference to a dispute that led to the shooting — but Kershaw cut him off, telling him it wasn’t relevant to his bond decision.
Earlier in the day, Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs would not speculate whether Johnson could face murder or manslaughter charges.
“I’m not going to comment on what’s possible,” Loebs said. “We’re reviewing all the evidence to determine what happened.”
Johnson was interviewed the night of the shooting and told police he own a firearm that he keeps at the home.
“I asked Johnson about the conviction and his right to possess a firearm,” Twin Falls Police Detective Ken Rivers wrote in a sworn affidavit. “Johnson told me had completed his sentence and thought he now had the right to possess firearms.”
The affidavit did not provide details about the shooting.
Johnson posted the $100,000 bond after the hearing and is out of custody after spending the holiday weekend in the Twin Falls County Jail. He’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 9.