SRO at Martese Johnson’s first court date

Martese Johnson (in red tie) and his attorney, Daniel Watkins (right) approach Charlottesville General District Court for Johnson's first appearance since his arrest by ABC agents that required 10 stitches. Staff photo Martese Johnson (in red tie) and his attorney, Daniel Watkins (right) approach Charlottesville General District Court for Johnson’s first appearance since his arrest by ABC agents that required 10 stitches. Staff photo

A standing room only crowd of dozens of supporters packed Charlottesville General District Court Thursday morning for Martese Johnson, the 20-year-old UVA student bloodied by Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents early March 18.

Johnson, accompanied by his attorney, UVA Law School grad Daniel Watkins, stood before Judge Robert Downer for fewer than two minutes on charges of public intoxication or swearing and obstruction of justice without force.

He had planned to enter a not guilty plea, according to a release from Watkins’ office, but Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony asked the judge to continue the case until the Virginia State Police’s ongoing investigation into criminal behavior by the ABC agents is complete and “we investigate the next step.” Johnson will appear in court again May 28.

Among the supporters attending the hearing were Johnson’s bow-tie wearing brothers from Kappa Alpha Psi, the fraternity of which he’s a member, and City Council candidate Wes Bellamy. “I’m here to show support for Martese,” said Bellamy. “He’s a strong, fine young man.”

Correction: Johnson did not enter a not guilty plea at the hearing as originally reported.