Families of seven killed in crash back in court

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - Just one month after attorneys for Brett Gerald got an East Feliciana Parish judge to reduce his sentence for the 2012 drunk driving crash that killed seven people, relatives of his victims were back in court on Tuesday hoping to get more answers.

Early Tuesday morning, John Gaines and his family gathered in front of the courthouse in downtown Clinton.

While the man responsible for killing six of their relatives and a family friend in a May 2012 drunk driving crash is behind bars, Gaines says justice is has not been served.

Gaines and his attorney Jill Craft say they asked to review Judge William Carmichael's pre-sentence report months ago.

"Brett Gerald has been sentenced and re-sentenced in this case, and right now he's trying to get an excessive sentence reduced again. So Mr. Gerald could be out in as less as five years for killing seven people," said Gaines.

"The law absolutely requires that my clients should have been given access to, reasonable access to that report well in advance of the sentencing," said Craft. "Obviously that didn't happen."

After nearly three hours, Craft and her clients were allowed to review the nearly 30-page document, but the judge would not let anyone take the report, make copies or take photos.

"It was extremely important for my clients to be able to see what the judge was seeing in making his sentencing decisions," said Craft. "It certainly would have been helpful for them to have the ability to not only see what was in the pre-sentence report but to actually comment on it as the law says they have the right to do."

Brett Gerald nor his attorneys attended the proceedings. District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla declined comment.

Attorneys for Brett Gerald are in the middle of an appeals process to reduce his current sentence of 35 years in prison. Jill Craft, says her clients' victim impact statement and what they read in the report on Tuesday will be used in those proceedings.

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