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CLINTON, LA (WAFB) -
The man suspected of being drunk when the truck he was driving collided head-on with a car, killing all seven people inside, appeared in district court for a bond hearing Tuesday.
Brett Gerald, 30, of Greensburg was flanked by law enforcement agents as he was wheeled into the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse in Clinton.
Judge William Carmichael set Gerald's bond at $1 million. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for June 26.
"It's a fair bond. Everybody is entitled to a bond. Unfortunately, that's what the law is," 20th Judicial District Attorney Samuel D'Aquilla said.
Gerald has not yet retained an attorney, so his arraignment did not happen. He has until the next hearing to get an attorney so he can plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. He is expected to plead not guilty. If Gerald does not have an attorney by June 26, he will still be arraigned.
"The lives of these people weren't even considered today. He killed dreams, hopes, aspirations, thousands of people who would have been touched by these people," Evangelist, Ivy Thomas said.
After the hearing, Gerald was taken to be booked into the East Feliciana Parish Prison.
Gerald faces seven counts of vehicular homicide following the deadly crash.
The crash happened Wednesday, May 30, 2012 around 10 p.m. Police say Grandmother Brenda Gaines was driving her daughter Denise Gaines and Denise's four children, Diamond Johnson, Jyran Johnson, Willie Gaines and Rogerick Johnson, Jr. Also in the vehicle was a fellow church member Angela Mosley.
The group was headed back to Baton Rouge from a bible study in Clinton, La.
Brenda, Denise, Diamond, Jyran and Angela were all killed instantly in the crash. Willie Gaines was taken off life support June 3, 2012. Rogerick Johnson died Sunday, June 10, 2012.
Those who loved them were in Clinton on Tuesday morning to face Gerald in court. The Gaines, Johnson and Mosely families filed into the courthouse after walking across the front lawn of the East Feliciana Courthouse with their heads hung low. Gerald followed minutes later surrounded by prison guards.
"I felt anger. I just really didn't want to look at him at all," Mosley's brother, Michael Matthews said.
According to the Louisiana State Police, Gerald was out celebrating his 30th birthday and was under the influence of alcohol. After testing his Blood/Alcohol Content, police say Gerald's BAC was .15g%, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08g%.
Reportedly, there will be another hearing in August and the case could go to trial as soon as December.
This is not the first time Gerald has been charged with a DWI. Records show he 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 beer.
D'Aquilla said even with a valid admission prosecutors still have to prove the blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.
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.
If Gerald posts bond, he will have to follow the judge's set conditions. Gerald will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle. He will be required to live at his father's house and he is required to wear an ankle monitor. He will only be allowed to go to the doctor's office and church, but he has to get pre-approved to do those things.
"We have faith and confidence in the judicial system. We intend to be here every time until we see a conviction," family spokesman, Ray Gilbert, Jr. said.
If convicted, Gerald faces a maximum of 200 years in prison.
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