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SLAUGHTER, LA (WAFB) -
Charges have been upgraded for a man who is suspected of driving drunk and crashing head-on into a car killing six people. The initial crash took the lives of five people and left two in critical condition. The sixth victim of the crash was taken off life support this weekend.
Brett Gerald, 30, of Greensburg was arrested, booked, and bonded out of the East Feliciana Parish Prison last week. Now that a sixth person died as a result of the crash, Gerald's charges have been upgraded to six counts of vehicular homicide.
Gerald has been arrested and will be held in the East Feliciana Parish Prison until his bond hearing, which is expected to happen Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
The crash happened on LA 67 near LA 412 in the town of Slaughter.
Brenda Gaines (grandmother), Denise Gaines (mother), Diamond Johnson, 12, and 6-year-old Jyran Johnson, all died at the scene on May 30, 2012, around 10 p.m. The family was headed back to Baton Rouge after a bible study in Clinton. Another church member, Angela Mosley, was riding with the family and was also killed.
The Gaines family tells 9News, 15-year-old Willie Gaines was taken off life support Sunday evening. His family decided to donate his organs. Younger brother, R.J. is recovering from his injuries.
Police say Gerald had been out celebrating his 30th birthday and had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system. State police say his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .15g%. The legal limit is .08g%.
"A total of six people he killed and one on life support. Why is he back on the street? Someone answer that question," Marcus Gaines said.
Records show Gerald was arrested in 2008 in East Feliciana for DWI, but served no jail time. Then last spring in Denham Springs, another DWI. He served 48 hours in jail for that.
Twentieth Judicial District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla said he could not prosecute Gerald on the 2008 DWI charge because his urine tested negative. However, Gerald admitted to a state trooper he was drinking Miller Lite.
D'Aquilla said even with a valid admission prosecutors still have to prove the blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.
"If he had a good valid DWI, we would have prosecuted him on a valid DWI. Unfortunately, we had problems because he refused a lot of stuff and we are not going to go into court unprepared," D'Aquilla said.
Along with the six counts of vehicular homicide, Gerald is also charged with first-degree vehicular negligence, second offense DWI, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and driving left of center.
State victims coordinator, Ricky Collins, is helping relatives through what can be a very stressful court process.
"The families need prayer most of all because that is a tragedy to them. They need the community to pray with them and need to be assured justice will be served," Collins said.
The service for all five Gaines family members will be Friday, June 8th at 11 am at Living Faith Christian Center on Winbourne Avenue. A benefit concert will be held Thursday, June 7th at 7 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church on Greenwell Springs Rd.
Mosley's visitation has been scheduled for Thursday, June 7th from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Richardson Funeral Home in Clinton. Funeral Services will be Friday, June 8th at 11 a.m. at Galilee Baptist Church in Clinton.
A memorial account has been set up in the name of John Gaines at Chase bank for those who would like to donate to help with expenses.
5 killed on their way home from church by suspected drunk driver Not the first DWI for suspected drunk driver in fatal crash Fatal wreck victim's family lives through nightmare Police release suspected