Man pleads not guilty to 7 counts of vehicular homicide, family prays

Published: Jun. 26, 2012 at 7:26 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM CDT
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Brett Gerald (Source: East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office)
Brett Gerald (Source: East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office)
Family gathers at the scene of the crash
Family gathers at the scene of the crash
Family prays at the crosses placed where seven people lost their lives
Family prays at the crosses placed where seven people lost their lives

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - The man accused of killing seven people while allegedly driving drunk was arraigned Tuesday morning.

Brett Gerald, 30, of Greensburg pleaded not guilty seven counts of vehicular homicide. His trial date was set for Dec. 10. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 200 years in prison.

He went before Judge William Carmichael at the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse in Clinton. Attorney Tommy D'Amico represents him. District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla expected Gerald to plead not guilty to all charges.

The wreck happened on LA 67 near LA 412 in the town of Slaughter just before 10 p.m. on May 30. Investigators said Gerald's 2007 Dodge pickup drove head-on into a 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis.

Investigators said Grandmother Brenda Gaines was driving her daughter, Denise Gaines, and Denise's four children: Diamond Johnson, Jyran Johnson, Willie Gaines and Rogerick Johnson, Jr. Fellow church member, Angela Mosley, was also in the car. The group 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. Rogerick Johnson died Sunday, June 10.

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, troopers said Gerald's BAC was .15g percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08g percent.

Gerald's charges also include a second offense DWI, an element his attorney says he plans to review with a fine toothed comb.

"We're looking at the accident reconstruction report, medical info and toxicology reports over the next few weeks," D'Amico said.

This incident is not the first time Gerald has been charged with a DWI. Records show he was arrested in 2008 in East Feliciana Parish for DWI, but served no jail time. He was also charged with DWI last spring in Denham Springs. He served 48 hours in jail for that.

Judge William Carmichael set Gerald's bond at $1 million earlier in the month.

Gerald, still bound to a wheelchair with two broken ankles had nothing to say as he left the courtroom Tuesday morning. Relatives of the victims were not expecting Gerald to admit fault. But Angela Mosley's brother, Michael Matthews, was hoping for Gerald to show some remorse.

"We are all there and still he can't part his lips to say I'm sorry for your loss or anything. It's like he just don't care," Matthews said.

Marcus Gaines, a relative of several people killed in the crash, was stunned.

"I'm at a loss for words right now. With everything going on, I'm at a loss for words," Marcus Gaines said.

After Tuesday morning's court hearing, the victims' family returned to the scene of the crash to pray at the crosses marking the spot where the lives of seven were lost.

"We suffered enough pain as it is. We just want to be done with it," Gaines said.

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