Convicted killer of a school bus driver to get new court hearing

Posted at 4:13 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 19:07:17-05

A man who is serving a life sentence for shooting and killing his school bus driver when he was a teenager is being given a new court hearing.

The murder made national headlines -- the first case of it's type in the country.

The crime happened in Dover on a cold Wednesday morning in March of 2005. School bus driver, Joyce Gregory, was on her route when she stopped to pick up 14-year-old Jason Clinard and he pulled a gun.

"He hadn't even got on the bus. He just stood in the doorway and shot her," said witness Bobby Fulks in 2005. 
Gregory, a wife and mother of two, later died from the gunshot wounds.

After the shooting, Clinard ran from the scene. He then called his mother. "He said momma I know I've done something and I need to go to the police station and he said that's where I'm headed," said Karen Clinard at the time. 

Clinard's case was transferred from juvenile to adult court and at the trial the jury convicted him of first degree murder. This verdict came with a life sentence.

Now Clinard could be out of prison by early next year.

"This is very unusual," said legal expert Jim Todd. Todd said Clinard has filed an appeal arguing his lawyer was ineffective during that transfer hearing to adult court 13 years ago.

Clinard says his lawyer at the time failed to call key witnesses. "There were two doctors who were going to testify that they thought at age 14 he could be rehabilitated in the juvenile system," said Todd who reviewed the court filing. 

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed there's an issue and now has ordered Clinard get a new juvenile transfer hearing.

If the judges decide he never should have been transferred to adult court in the first place he will have served his time."Juvenile court jurisdiction has already run ... there's no way they can punish him ... he's out," said Todd. 

Juvenile court jurisdiction runs to age 19. Clinard is now 28.

If the court sides with him, he'll be released immediately after serving about thirteen years of a life sentence.

Clinard will get his second transfer hearing this next April in federal court in downtown Nashville.