Christopher Bradley Bush convicted in 2018 murder of “JJ” Mount

Published 7:31 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Christopher Bradley Bush, 48, of McKenzie was found guilty Thursday of murder for the 2018 shooting death of Butler County resident Joshua James “JJ” Mount at Hazelet Bridge located in Covington County on Aug. 3, 2018.

A Covington County jury deliberated less than 35 minutes before handing down the decision after hearing evidence in the case for which Tammy Armstrong Bush, Joseph Vernon Armstrong, and Jonathon Alan Bush, had previously pleaded guilty.

“I am very appreciative for the jury’s efforts,” said Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell, who represented the State of Alabama with Assistant D.A. Nikki Stephens and Chief Assistant D.A. Grace Jeter. “I am also glad that — even though it took five years — the victim’s family finally has closure and justice has been served.”

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The jury heard testimony from former Covington County Sheriff’s deputy and current Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Trooper Hunter Odom. The first officer on the scene, Odom recalled discovering Tammy and Jonathon Bush, husband and wife, pulling into the parking area below the bridge.

Odom said Tammy’s father, Armstrong, exited the woods soon after and all three were detained for questioning.

Officers described finding two shotguns and a rifle partially buried in the wooded area south of the bridge. Covington County deputies said they discovered blood stains and drag marks in the dirt parking area and tracked those marks 20 yards away where they located Mount’s lifeless body with a gunshot wound to the head.

Covington County Sheriff’s investigators Jerry Fields and Joey Cato testified they recovered evidence they released to investigator David Hamby, who said he interviewed Christopher Bush and provided video footage of the interview.

During the video interview, Christopher claimed he went to the bridge looking for his ex-wife, Jessica Bush, and shot Mount fearing Mount would hurt Armstrong, who had also gone to the bridge.

Armstrong, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for his role in the murder, said he and Christopher went to the bridge after receiving information that Mount and Jessica, Armstrong’s daughter, had gotten their truck stuck in a mud hole there. Upon arrival, Armstrong fired a warning shot into the air. Mount exited the vehicle and was shot by Christopher as he attempted a retreat.

Other witnesses, brothers Bo and Justin Zeigler, confirmed Armstrong’s account and said Christopher declared “I shot him clean through the head.”

The brothers also said Christopher threatened to kill them and stated he would hunt them down and kill them if they reported the events.

Circuit Judge Charles “Lex” Short presided over the trial and previously denied probation to Tammy, 40, who previously pled guilty to felony murder charges for Mount’s murder.

According to the D.A.’s Office Manager Erin Wilson, Kenny Harden, former Butler County Sheriff and now sergeant with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, testified during the sentencing hearing and stated he knew little of Bush’s involvement in the murder even though he was present at the crime scene.

Wilson said Harden described talking with one defendant “alone,” that day, but did not recall the content of the conversation. She noted Harden confirmed no written reports were completed to document his presence at the crime scene or his conversation with any defendant and also denied being asked to create such reports, even though law enforcement practices usually require written reports for such crimes.

According to Harden, Covington County investigators requested he talk with Armstrong who refused to talk with investigators at the scene.

“The [Covington County] Sheriff told me he wouldn’t tell him anything so I said, ‘Maybe I can talk to him,’” Harden said. “We had warrants on him and also Jessica, so myself and an investigator went down there. I talked to him, then I told the Sheriff he was ready to talk. That was my only involvement in the case.”

Harden said his limited involvement at the scene did not merit a written report.

“We had a report on the thefts and everything here in Butler County. If he had said he wouldn’t talk to anyone but me and had given me a statement, then, yes, there would have been a written statement. But I just told him to be honest and to talk to them and that’s what he did. Therefore, Butler County wouldn’t have done a report.”

Harden testified in the first Grand Jury trial related to the Murder but was not invited to testify at the others. Tammy requested probation instead of time served, citing she asked this because of her children. 

At Tammy’s probation hearing, he testified that he believed she would abide by all requirements if allowed to serve probation.

Short will sentence Christopher at a hearing at a later date.  He was the last defendant tried in relation to Mount’s murder.