Tears flow as convicted killer gets 70 years
CLINTON - A man who killed seven people after a drunk driving crash in Slaughter last year won't get out of prison until he's a senior citizen.
Brett Gerald, 30, was sentenced to 70 years in prison by Judge William Carmichael. At least 35 of those years must be served without the benefit of probation or parole.
In court, Gerald pleaded for forgiveness to the victims' families. He said he would give up his life to bring back the victims if he could. As he walked out of court, he fought back tears as he was loaded into an East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Deputies car.
Outside, family members of the seven victims and Brett Gerald's family embraced one another. Gerald's family even apologized for their unspeakable loss.
"We're thankful it's over," Darrell Gerald said. "The burdens don't stop for any of us."
During victim impact statements, all of the family members who took the stand said they had forgiven Gerald. They said it's what the victims would have wanted.
"I could see remorse in him," John Gaines Sr. said. "He was crying when I was talking but he got a long time now to think."
John Gaines Jr. said he plans on working to toughen state laws to prevent other people from dealing with the pain his family feels.
"It's a lot to look at and review, going forward, to make sure laws are put in place to protect victims and victims families in the future," John Gaines Jr said.
"I think he should have done the whole 70 years," Marcus Gaines said. "As far as forgiving Brett Gerald, I would on strength of my mom, by honoring that last wish of hers, that's how she would feel."
Judge Carmichael told Gerald if he sentenced him to anything less, he would be a risk to the public. This was Gerald's fourth DWI arrest.