CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - Brett Gerald, the man who was driving drunk when he crashed into a car and killed seven people, has pleaded guilty to all seven counts of vehicular homicide.
Gerald, 30, of Greensburg walked into a Clinton courtroom Monday morning for the start of the trial, but chose to plead guilty to the charges.
Relatives of the seven people killed in the crash on Highway 67 came to court dressed in black, wearing white ribbons, one for each of victim.
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.
"I lost six people. We don't want the man to get away with five or ten years, that's all," Gaines said.
The group killed in the crash was headed back to Baton Rouge from a bible study in Clinton. Brenda, Denise, Diamond, Jyran and Angela were all killed instantly in the crash. Willie Gaines was taken off life support June 3, 2012. His family decided to donate his organs. Rogerick Johnson, 13, was later taken off life support and also died.
Investigators believe Gerald was out celebrating his 30th birthday and was under the influence of alcohol. After testing his Blood/Alcohol Content, police said Gerald's BAC was .15g%, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08g%.
Gerald's attorney, Tommy Damico, said the prosecution's case was solid.
"We investigated completely, used some very experienced experts that after I got the reports in a couple of weeks ago we determined it was as alleged," Damico said.
Records show he was arrested in 2008 in East Feliciana Parish for DWI, but served no jail time. Then, last spring he received a DWI in Denham Springs. 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.
Gerald's fate now lies in the hands of Judge William Carmichael who will spend the next four months reviewing the case.
"All we can do is give the judge our impact statement and tell them what we would like and then it's up to him what he gives the man. God will take care of it," Gaines said.
Gerald could spend anywhere from five to 210 years in prison.
He will be sentenced on March 12, 2013.
Family members will have the opportunity to give victim impact statements at that time.