Hearing Waived in Death of Omnitrans Bus Driver

May 05--A man accused of fatally stabbing an Omnitrans bus driver last year in Rialto waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday during an appearance in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Judge Michael Dest found that Robert Darrell Johnson "freely, voluntarily, intelligently, knowingly and expressly" waived his right to the preliminary hearing, according to court records.

At a preliminary hearing, a judge listens to witness testimony -- often from law enforcement officers -- to determine if sufficient evidence exists to hold over the defendant for trial on the charges.

Johnson is charged with one count of murder and allegations of using a knife and killing a transit official. He returns to court May 17 to enter a formal plea on the charges.

Johnson, 34, is alleged to have killed bus driver Lawrence Kester on May 7, 2010 while on his route near Riverside Avenue and Baseline in Rialto, according to police. Johnson left the bus, ran into a nearby Bank of America and then laid down inside a Stater Bros. supermarket while yelling that he had stabbed someone, authorities say.

Kester, 47, left behind a wife and eight children. Omnitrans officials said Kester, a 15-year veteran, was the first to be killed on-duty during the county bus service's 34-year history.

If convicted, Johnson faces life in state prison without the possibility of parole, lawyers say.

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