A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge on Friday raised bail to $1 million for a man accused of driving while intoxicated and causing a Labor Day crash that killed two children and injured several other people on Highway 166 east of Santa Maria.
Jerald Brandon Holman, 36, of Bakersfield pleaded not guilty Friday before Judge John Trice, according to Lee Cunningham, an assistant district attorney in San Luis Obispo County.
The arraignment hearing came a day after the District Attorney’s Office filed second-degree murder charges in addition to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence causing injury; and driving with a blood alcohol level above .08 percent causing injury.
Remaining charges include a count of felony child endangerment for each of the two children riding in the car Holman was driving, and a misdemeanor count of being an unlicensed driver.
He also faces several enhancements for causing great bodily injury.
The California Highway Patrol said Holman was driving at a high speed when he lost control of the Toyota and crossed into the other lane.
Holman jerked the steering wheel to the right in an attempt to regain control, but immediately swerved to the left, the CHP said.
The Toyota then crossed into the eastbound lane into the path of a Chevrolet driven by Aaron Pyne, 30, of Yucaipa, who braked hard and attempted to swerve to avoid the Toyota, the CHP said.
However, the Chevrolet clipped the left rear of the Toyota causing it to catapult into the air and roll numerous times.
The impact of the collision caused the passenger compartment of Holman’s vehicle to separate from the front section of the vehicle, and the two children were ejected.
The driver and passengers, including young children, in the second vehicle were injured in the crash, along with another passenger, Todeshia Lewis, 26, in Holman’s vehicle
Lewis reportedly is the mother of the children who died.
The CHP and the San Luis Obispo County coroner still have not released the names of the two children who died, but family and friends, in online postings, have identified them as Fabious Foreman, 7, and Zaniah Coleman, 4.
“They was just the sweetest little kids,” the children’s grandmother, Cheryl Barber, told Bakersfield-based KGET. “They talked a lot, they played. They fought. They were brother and sister. They knew everything. They were so smart.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a colleague of the mother to help with funeral and other expenses.
However, the creator later updated the site to say a mortuary has agreed to pay for funeral costs.
A call to the funeral the home has not been returned.
A public defender has been appointed for Holman, who was ordered to return to court Sept. 27 for a pre-preliminary hearing.
Holman has remained in custody of the San Luis Obispo County since his arrest following the head-on collision on Highway 166 on Monday afternoon, with bail initially set at $110,000.
He has three prior convictions, authorities said.
In a story on its website, KGET also reported that Holman was convicted in April 2015 of DUI and sentenced to four days in jail. He served two days due to good behavior, but a warrant was issued for his arrest on Aug. 4 because he hadn’t completed the required DUI education classes.
If convicted of the new charges, Holman faces life in prison.
Cunningham said the DA’s Office is not planning to file charges against the mother of the children.