Judge waiting for mental health evaluation for man found with torso in car

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Dorrae Johnson is appearing in court after police reportedly found a human torso in his car during a traffic stop. (WVLT)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A man who was arrested after a human torso was found in his vehicle was in court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing, but his date was reset. A judge is waiting on Dorrae Johnson's mental health evaluation to come back.

Johnson was arrested in June after leading officers on a chase on I-40 and Sutherland Avenue. According to a report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol he hit and killed a pedestrian while on Sutherland Avenue. The upper torso of the victim's body was found inside his car.

Johnson was previously in court in July to face charges in relation to a previous DUI.

During that hearing, the judge revoked bond for Johnson at the request of the State of Tennessee during the hearing. Charges of vehicular homicide in relation to the most recent incident were bound over to grand jury.

According to testimony from a Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer, he believed Johnson's erratic driving was caused by texting and driving.

According to Johnson's lawyer, a DUI test after his arrest came up negative for alcohol, despite the fact that Johnson told officers at the scene he was "blitzed." The lawyer said, "I think there was some level of marijuana, but the underlying DUI that he is on bond for came back negative of alcohol."

Lawyers said Johnson has an extensive history of mental health issues that included outpatient treatments at Cherokee Health Systems and Peninsula Behavioral Health and a 24-hour hold. Lawyers requested an evaluation of his mental capability to stand trial.

WVLT News learned that District Attorney Charme Allen filed a motion to revoke or increase the bond amount after Johnson was released on bond.

The reason for revoking the bond is that "the defendant's repeated refusal to obey the laws of this state make him a continuing threat to the community," according to court documents.

Records show Johnson, 29, has been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license 12 times since 2009. He has also faced drug, theft and another DUI charge in the past.

According to records, Johnson was released from his most recent arrest after posting 10% of his bond which was set at $76,000.

Officers said they discovered the torso after stopping a car they said was swerving between lanes on Interstate 40.

According to investigators, Johnson was heading west near mile marker 388 when he was stopped. Investigators said he yelled out the window that he had to get to his family's home and then drove away from the traffic stop.

Johnson is accused of then taking the Sutherland Avenue exit, hitting a curb, and blowing out a tire while driving the wrong direction. According to a report filed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Johnson hit and killed a pedestrian while driving east on Sutherland Avenue. Investigators said Johnson then hit a utility pole, jumped out of the car and ran away.

An officer arrested Johnson and turned off Johnson's car. That's when the officer said he discovered a human torso in the passenger floorboard. The torso was reportedly missing its lower half, which was later found with its wallet at what police called "the scene of impact."

Police identified the victim as Daryl Butler, according to the report. Police said Butler was a pedestrian who was hit and killed by Johnson.

The officer who arrested Johnson said Johnson appeared intoxicated. A report stated Johnson said, "he knew he was 'blitzed'."

When police asked who was in the car with him, Johnson said he and the passenger had switched seats, according to a report.

Johnson is charged with Vehicular Homicide, Speeding, Financial Responsibility Law, Display of Registration Plates, Expired Registration, Seatbelt Violation, Texting while driving, Driving on Revoked and was scheduled to face a judge on June 17, 2019.

The sheriff's office records stated that he was released on a $76,000 bond shortly before 4 p.m. on June 18.

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