Five Johnson County Sheriff’s Office bailiffs surrounded Burleson resident Jerry Don Elders on Friday morning as he entered the 413th District courtroom for a short magistration hearing on his capital murder charge. Elders, 39, has also been charged with aggravated assault against a public servant with a firearm and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Johnson County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Ronny McBroom on April 15 set Elders’ bond at $1 million on the aggravated assault charge, $10,000 on one of the possession charges and no bond on the other.
413th District Judge Bill Bosworth on Friday added another $1 million to Elders’ bonds on the capital murder charge.
Elders sat quietly with his attorneys, Miles Brissette and Bob Gill, throughout the hearing, which lasted about five minutes.
“It is not yet the time for me to accept a plea from you as you have not been indicted,” Bosworth told Elders.
Bosworth added that the grand jury, once they review Elders’ case, can decide whether or not to indict him.
Under the capital murder charge, Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna can elect to seek the death penalty or life in prison without parole should Elders be found guilty.
That decision has yet to be made, court officials said. Hanna, after Friday’s hearing, said no date has been selected to present Elders’ charges to the grand jury.
Hanna requested that should Elders be able to make bond on the capital murder or any of his other charges that the matter be reviewed by the court “prior to the bond being made,” a request Bosworth granted. Bosworth told Elders’ attorneys that they will have the opportunity to request bond adjustments if and when any such hearings occur.
Elders’ assault and murder charges stem from the April 14 shooting of a Burleson police officer and subsequent death of a Burleson woman.
Burleson Officer Joshua Lott, at 4:06 a.m. that day conducted a traffic stop on a maroon 2003 Mazda Tribute driven by Elders in the 1100 block of S.W. Hillside Drive.
Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell said the traffic stop was for a defective taillight.
Lott, who was driving a marked Burleson Police Department vehicle and wearing a Burleson police uniform, noticed a male driver later determined to be Elders, as well as a female in the front seat and another male in the back, as he approached the vehicle from the passenger side.
The woman in the front passenger seat leaned back in her seat as Elders displayed and fired a gun three times striking Lott in his chest twice and neck once before fleeing the scene, according to Elders’ arrest warrant.
Cordell said Elders began shooting immediately at Lott.
“He had no warning,” Cordell said. “Nowhere really to go.”
Burleson police at 4:23 a.m. received word that the vehicle was on fire in the 700 block of S.W. John Jones Drive. The Mazda sustained extensive burn damage, according to reports, but detectives salvaged a tool case containing several items of Elders’ identification.
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputies subsequently located the woman in the car who advised that she was present during the shooting of Lott and confirmed that Elders discharged the gun at Lott, according to reports. The woman also said she was present when the Mazda caught fire. Elders’ arrest warrant contains no details of how or why the vehicle caught fire.
Later that morning, Johnson County Dispatch received a 911 call concerning a silver Toyota Tacoma later determined to belong to Burleson resident Robin Waddell.
The caller told dispatch that the Tacoma drove through the rear parking lot gate of the Joshua Police Department and that a woman was laying near the back door of the police station and appeared to be injured. That caller and another witness told officers that the Tacoma left the scene driven by a man and traveled toward west Farm-to-Market Road 917.
Rescue workers transported Waddell to Texas Health Huguley Hospital where she was pronounced deceased at 9:30 a.m. Waddell received two gunshot wounds, according to Elders’ capital murder arrest warrant, one to her upper right arm and one to her back.
A witness called the Gainesville Police Department later that same day to report that a man had abandoned a silver Toyota Tacoma and fled into a tree line about 300 yards away. Gainesville police responded and took Elders into custody. Police also determined that the truck Elders fled from was registered to Waddell.
Elders, during a police interview following his arrest, stated that he was the one who shot Lott during the earlier traffic stop, according to reports.
Elders said he fled the scene in his Mazda but then fled on foot towards a wooded area after the vehicle caught fire. Elders said he hid in the woods then made his way onto a property on County Road 802 where he located a feed truck and slept on the flat bed of the truck using bags of feed to keep warm, according to reports.
Officers subsequently identified the land as Waddell’s property.
Elders told police that he entered the passenger area of the feed truck because it was too cold outside and once again fell asleep.
Elders said a “lady” opened the door of the truck he was sleeping in at some point during the morning and surprised him, at which point Elders said he pointed a gun at her and demanded the keys to the truck, according to reports.
After Waddell said she could not find the keys to that truck Elders demanded the keys to the Tacoma, according to reports. Elders said Waddell refused to give him the keys so he forced her to drive the Tacoma “and drop him off somewhere or take him somewhere,” according to reports.
Elders told officers that Waddell, while driving him on Main Street in Joshua “intentionally” drove the Tacoma through the closed gates of the Joshua Police Department lot. Elders said he panicked and shot Waddell twice as she was getting out of the truck, after which he slid into the driver’s seat and drove off, according to reports.
Police later recovered a Smith and Wesson .38 Special 5-shot revolver from the front driver’s seat floorboard area of Waddell’s truck, according to reports.
Later that same night police arrested Jeremy Wayne Brewer, 32, of Johnson County, on charges of theft and manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance. McBroom set Brewer’s bonds at $250,000 and required a hearing in the 413th District Court should Brewer attempt to seek release on bond. Police said they believe Brewer to be the person in the back seat of the Mazda when Lott was shot.
Lott was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where he was treated and released on April 15.
Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies lined the parking lot upon his release and caravan of patrol cars escorted him and his family back to his home.
Area residents and officials gathered in front of the Burleson Police Department on April 14 and 15 to honor Waddell and Lott.