MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A judge refused to set bond Wednesday for a Mississippi man accused of killing five people and an unborn child who were slain one by one with an ax and shot inside a home in rural Alabama.
The decision by Mobile County Judge Rick Stout came as Derrick Dearman, 27, made his first court appearance on multiple charges of capital murder and kidnapping.
"He doesn't need to be out. He is a danger to the community," District Attorney Ashley Rich said afterward of the Leakesville, Mississippi, man.
Rich has said her office may seek the death penalty against Dearman, who allegedly attacked the five as they slept and then kidnapped his estranged girlfriend, who had sought shelter from him at the house. Killed were three men and two women, one of whom was pregnant.
Relatives of the victims were present at Wednesday's hearing. Dearman turned to look at them but said nothing.
Dearman has told reporters he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the slayings early Saturday. The judge appointed a defense attorney, Jim Vollmer, to represent Dearman and scheduled an arraignment hearing for Aug. 31.
"That's when some things might happen," Vollmer said.
Dearman is charged with six counts of capital murder and kidnapping, and courts typically refuse bond in such cases.
The slain have been identified as Shannon Melissa Randall, 35; Joseph Adam Turner, 26; Justin Kaleb Reed, 23; Chelsea Marie Reed, 22; and Robert Lee Brown, 26. All were related by blood or marriage, relatives have said, and survivors are trying to raise money to pay for their funerals.
Dearman's estranged girlfriend, Laneta Lester, was abducted, along with the child of Randall and Turner, authorities and relatives said. Lester is the sister of Turner, who was married to Randall.
Both Lester and the child were released, and Dearman surrendered at the sheriff's office in Greene County, Mississippi. Citronelle police said they found the bodies Saturday afternoon after being notified by Greene County officers that Dearman claimed to have killed people.
Dearman had been charged with burglary in Mississippi months before the slayings, and Rich said he was free on bond at the time of the killings.