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Trial opens for driver in deadly Tenn. school bus crash

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.  -- A prosecutor says a Tennessee school bus driver was on his cellphone and driving 20 mph over the speed limit when he caused the crash that killed six elementary school students in 2016. 

25-year-old Johnthony Walker is being tried on 34 charges, including vehicular homicide. Prosecutor Crystle Carrion said Walker was driving 50 mph on a narrow, winding road when the bus ran off the road, hit a pole, overturned and hit a tree. 

Defense attorney Amanda Dunn said Chattanooga police never investigated an eye witness who said her client swerved to avoid another vehicle while taking 37 students home in 2016 in Chattanooga.

Tennessee bus crash update 02:41

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole ruled on Feb 13. that jurors will not hear testimony that Walker cursed at students and had other issues. However, the order states that if prosecutors believe testimony about prior driving by 25-year-old Johnthony Walker is relevant, they can request an out-of-jury hearing in his trial. 

Six Woodmore Elementary School children died in the 2016 crash. Walker's defense attorney said the testimony was not related to the wreck, while prosecutors said it could show a pattern of behavior.

Walker also faces over a dozen civil suits in connection with the crash.

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