Tammy Bush denied probation, remanded to custody after guilty plea

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

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Circuit Judge Charles “Lex” Short denied probation to Tammy Armstrong Bush, 40, and remanded her into custody after a sentencing hearing at the Covington County Courthouse on Jan. 10.

Bush, a McKenzie native, previously pled guilty to felony murder charges for her involvement in the murder of Joshua “JJ” Mount in 2018 at Hazelet Bridge, near the Covington and Butler county line.

The defendant’s application for probation benefits came after Short accepted her guilty plea, and requested Bush be permitted not to serve any prison or jail time as a result of her plea. Bush testified she was asking for probation for the sake of her children and mother and said she “pose[s] no harm to anyone.”

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Three witnesses testified at the hearing on Bush’s behalf, including the defendant herself, former Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden, and Bush’s pastor.

“I’m so sorry,” Bush said at the hearing. “JJ didn’t deserve to die.”

District Attorney Walt Merrell represented the State in the matter and agreed with Bush that the victim did not deserve to be killed.

“Bush and her co-defendants acted as vigilantes, dispensing what they believed to be their own street justice,” Merrell said. “That cannot be acceptable in civilized society, and the law will not tolerate such. JJ Mount has a family that loved him, and they have grieved his loss each day since August 2018.”

Bush’s attorney, Riley Powell, of Mobile, called Harden to the stand first during the sentencing hearing. Harden, a sergeant now with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, testified he had known Bush’s family since 1995 and thought she ought to receive probation.

Merrell disagreed.

“I don’t think anyone should get probation for participating in a crime that resulted in death,” he said. “Period.”

Harden testified he knew little of Bush’s involvement in the murder even though he was present at the crime scene. Harden described talking with one defendant “alone,” that day, but did not recall the content of the conversation.

Harden confirmed no written reports were completed to document his presence at the crime scene or his conversation with any defendant. He also denied being asked to create such reports, even though law enforcement practices usually require written reports for such crimes.

Bush denied expecting the murder or any knowledge it might occur. Previously, she admitted to dropping two co-defendants off with firearms to await the victim.

Upon his return to Hazelet’s Bridge, Mount was shot in the head and died immediately.

Also charged were Jonathan Bush, Tammy’s husband; her father, Vernon Armstrong; and her former brother-in-law, Christopher Bradley Bush. Armstrong was sentenced to 30 years in the Alabama Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to felony murder. Bradley and Jonathan Bush are set for trial later this month.

Short indicated he would consider a request to split Tammy’s sentence if she applied later.