Judge refuses to lower bond for drunk driving suspect

Darrell Blappert Jr. (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
Darrell Blappert Jr. (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
De Anna Tucker
De Anna Tucker

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The man accused of killing the daughter of Gulfport's police chief in a drunk driving accident remains in jail under a $1 million bond. A judge refused to lower bond for Darrell Blappert, 26, and ruled there is enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury.

On March 29, De Anna Tucker was standing in a Pass Road parking lot when a Mustang ran off the road and crushed her between two cars. At a probable cause hearing, a detective testified when officers initially questioned Blappert, they could smell alcohol on his breath but he denied he'd been drinking. Then crime lab tests showed a .14 blood alcohol level. The legal limit is a .08 blood alcohol.

"All we are is grieving parents, like any parent would be if they lost their child in an accident as a result of an impaired driver,"said Chief Alan Weatherford, Tucker's father. "So that's why we're here today and nothing more. We just simply want fair justice for the loss of De Anna."

Tucker and her three-year-old son had just left a bridal shop after looking at her wedding dress when she was hit. Her wedding was scheduled for Saturday. During Blappert's hearing, Tucker's mother wiped away tears.

"It's very tough," said Weatherford. "As any family who has been through this would know. It's hard to comprehend if you have not lost a child. We were very close to De Anna, and of course, it's tough."

Blappert's defense attorney, Michael Crosby, argued that his client's $1 million dollar bond was unreasonable and that this high profile case put Blappert's safety in danger at the Harrison County jail.  Crosby also said Blappert had ties to community through his fiancee, infant child, and relatives in Picayune.

However, Judge Bruce Strong saw things differently after he heard several witness accounts of the high speed Blappert was traveling. Detective Michael Kamien said Blappert and his passenger told police that Blappert lost control after swerving to avoid a car that pulled out in front of them.

The passenger initially told police they had been going 45 miles per hour but later a few days later gave a second statement indicating the speed was more like 80 miles per hour which fell in line with witness statements.

Judge Strong said the suspect showed total disregard for the safety of the community especially since the accident happened around 5 pm.

"I'm not inclined to reduce his bond if he's going to drink and drive in this community in excess of 80 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone," said Judge Strong.

Sandra Ladner is president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and was in the courtroom to offer support to Tucker's family.

"I think the judge hit the nail on the head when he said that he is a danger to society because of his reckless behavior,"said Ladner. "His reckless driving in the past and his reckless driving that caused this unfortunate death. "

Harrison County Prosecutor Herman Cox said Darrell Blappert is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison. Because Blappert was convicted of felony burglary in Louisiana back in 2005 he is not eligible for house arrest.

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