Victims' family wants convicted killer re-sentenced
CLINTON - The family of seven people who died in a drunk driving crash last year want the killer, Brett Gerald, sentenced again.
They are upset because Gerald's prior DWI arrests were left out of court paperwork at the time he was initially sentenced in March.
Brett Gerald killed seven people when he drove drunk in Slaughter in May of 2012. He was sentenced to 70 years in March after pleading guilty to seven counts of vehicular homicide. However, he was re-sentenced in May to half the time after Supreme Court issued new sentencing guidelines for DWI offenders. Gerald's attorney is appealing that ruling, calling the sentence excessive.
Gerald's three prior DWIs were left out of the case file during his sentencing and re-sentencing this year.
"We think Brett Gerald's sentence should be voided and he should be re-sentenced on this matter," John Gaines Jr., a victims' family member said.
There's not a day that goes by where Gaines Jr. doesn't think about the six relatives he lost, along with a family friend. His family's fight with the court system began this year when he began asking to view the pre-sentence report for the case before Gerald was sentenced in March. The pre-sentence report is supposed to contain an offender's criminal history, but Gerald's did not.
"Only after my client spoke to media, specifically Channel 2 and said 'Wait where are all his priors,' did a supplemental report appear," said Jill Craft, the attorney for the victims' family.
News 2 has learned that supplemental report containing Gerald's prior DWI arrests was added in August, months after he was sentenced to the seven vehicular homicide counts.
District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla told News 2 the judge relied on media reports that detailed Gerald's prior DWIs at the time of sentencing. He confirmed today that information was absent from the paperwork at the time of sentencing, and blamed the Department of Probation and Parole for the lack of criminal history.
A Probation and Parole spokeswoman told News 2 the state began double-checking Gerald's record when the victims' family began raising questions. Two of Gerald's prior DWI's had been pleaded down, and another didn't show up because he was never formally charged.
"It concerns me a little bit, but it's something we already knew," D'Aquilla said. "We were well-informed on his past criminal history."
That answer isn't sitting well with the victims' family.
"If they was aware and the pre-sentence investigation went through the District Attorney's Office, he would have caught all these aggravating circumstances," Gaines Jr. said.
Within the past few weeks, Craft filed a writ of mandamus which compels all parties to comply with the law. News 2 reached out to Judge William Carmichael, but did not hear back by news time.