A Mecklenburg District Court Judge set a $903,000 bond Tuesday for Billy Ladario Neal, who is charged in the deaths of two men Monday in a southeast Charlotte traffic wreck.
Neal, 20, faces two counts of felony death by motor vehicle and two counts of felony hit-and-run causing death, as well as charges of driving while impaired, reckless driving and driving with a revoked license.
Brothers Jose Aguilar, 45, and Hugo Rene Duarte Aguilar, 34, died after their car was struck by Neal’s SUV just before 5 a.m. Monday at the intersection of East W.T. Harris Boulevard and Idlewild Road, police said.
The brothers were on their way to a construction job in Asheville.
Jose Aguilar was driving and died at the scene. His brother, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle and died later at the hospital.
Neal, who appeared in court by video from the jail, asked the judge if he could say something. “This right here is not me,” he told the judge.
Mecklenburg District Judge Karen Eady-Williams advised Neal not to speak except through an attorney.
The victims’ friends and pastor from their church, Iglesia Sion Assembly of God, attended the hearing. Their surviving brother, David Aguilar, wept as he watched the courtroom proceeding.
Friends of the victims described the brothers as hardworking and good men.
The brothers’ family lives in Honduras. Their mother, who is seriously ill, had not been informed of her sons’ deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Madeline Cueto, one of the brothers’ friends.
Jose Aguilar is survived by his wife and four children, who had been expecting him to move back home to Honduras soon after working in the United States for the past 10 years to support his family, Cueto said. Hugo Aguilar had no wife or children. He had been working to raise money to build a church at home in Honduras, Cueto said.
Hugo Aguilar was an organ donor, and seven matches had been found for his organs as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Cueto.
Neal has a lengthy arrest record. Monday’s arrest in the fatal wreck was the fifth time he has been arrested in the past six months. Each time, according to jail records, officers accused him of driving with a revoked license and possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Two weeks ago, Neal was arrested and charged with driving while license revoked and possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was released from Mecklenburg jail on $8,700 bond.
Mecklenburg court officials have changed the guidelines that magistrates use to set bond amounts for people who have recently been arrested. The changes gave court officials more access to a suspect’s criminal background, and also gave ranges for bond amounts.
For driving while license revoked, the maximum recommended bond is $2,500 under the new guidelines.
Neal was charged with two counts of driving while license revoked. For one of those offenses, he was given a $1,600 bond. For the other, he was given a bond of $2,000. Both bonds were near the maximum amount.
Neal is next scheduled to appear in court on June 5 in connection with the charges in Monday’s fatal wreck.
Staff writer Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed
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