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(Marissa Lang | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sgt. Derek Johnson's widow, Shante Johnson, and the fallen officer's father, Randy Johnson, exchange smiles outside a 3rd District courtroom after a Utah judge sentenced Timothy Troy Walker to life in prison on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, for fatally shooting the officer late last year.
Man pleads guilty to killing Utah police Sgt. Derek Johnson
Sentencing » Timothy Troy Walker will spend his life in prison for killing Draper police Sgt. Derek Johnson.
First Published Jul 08 2014 11:02 am • Last Updated Jul 08 2014 10:01 pm

West Jordan • For the first time since Sgt. Derek Johnson was killed last year, his family on Tuesday faced the man who pulled the trigger.

They didn’t mince words.

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Selfish, they called him. Evil. Pitiful. Murderer.

One by one, those closest to the fallen officer implored a 3rd District Judge to send Timothy Troy Walker to prison for the rest of his life.

Walker sat in silence, his shoulders slumped, hands shackled behind his back.

Moments earlier, before a courtroom packed with uniform-clad law enforcement officers, weeping friends, family and spectators, Walker had pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to aggravated murder.

The plea allowed him to escape with his life — the maximum possible penalty for the crime could have been death — but ensured he would spend the rest of it behind bars.

"In our society we have so few heroes, and yet you took one away from us," said Judge Mark Kouris, who sentenced Walker to the maximum amount of time he could. "The next time you leave the penitentiary will be after your death. You will never walk out again."

Walker said he won’t let the years spent behind bars go to waste.

In his first public statement since the September shooting, the 34-year-old man apologized to the Johnson family.

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"I’m standing before you today because I took the life of a dedicated public servant, a husband, a father," Walker said, between tears. "I would gladly trade my life for Officer Johnson’s, but there’s nothing I can do to bring him back."

This, Kouris said, is a void no punishment can fill.

"There are no winners here today," Kouris said. "Sgt. Johnson is still not going to come home tomorrow."

After court adjourned Tuesday, the fallen officer’s father, Randy Johnson, told a crowd of television cameras and reporters that this was the outcome he believed his son would have wanted.

"We’re grateful for this resolution because it was a quick resolution. If the courts were different and it wouldn’t take forever to pursue, possibly, the death penalty, we would have considered that. But this is the very best scenario — that we can be done and we can now move forward and celebrate Derek’s life," the father said. "There’s a finality in this that was very difficult to deal with, but there’s also comfort that comes."

Derek Johnson — the father of a 7-year-old son — has been described as loving, dedicated, infectiously cheerful, ambitious, courageous and heroic.

He was in a marked Draper City police vehicle about 6 a.m. on Sept. 1, when he noticed a man standing outside of his stopped Volvo near 13200 S. Fort St.

It was Walker.

According to court documents, Walker had stopped the car because he ran out of gas and the passenger-side front tire had gone flat from driving over a curb, a stop sign, a large rock and then through a fence at 13800 S. 933 East.

He kept driving a few blocks to the area of 13200 South before he encountered Johnson.

When the young officer pulled up near the Volvo to see if he could help, Walker allegedly shot Johnson, launching a bullet through the open front passenger-side window of Johnson’s police car.

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