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Driver In Jumbo’s Crash Charged With DUI Manslaughter

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Antonio Lawrence  (Source: Miami-Dade Corrections)

Antonio Lawrence (Source: Miami-Dade Corrections)

South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The driver of a pick up truck which killed two men when it slammed into the front of a popular Liberty City restaurant was in bond court on Monday.

During his appearance before the judge, bond was set at $30,000 for 53-year old Antonio Lawrence who is charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter.

According to an arrest affidavit, Lawrence was also charged with DUI and DUI with property damage. A prosecutor in this case told a Judge in bond court that that was the same charged he was arrested for in 2007.

The affidavit said Lawrence refused to say anything to Police as he was being arrested and said a half-full bottle of brandy was found with him.

CBS4′s Peter D’Oench also reported that records show that Lawrence was also arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in 1999 and assault and battery in 2004.

The night of the crash, the judge said a field sobriety test showed he had a blood alcohol level of .253, more than three times the legal limit.

“It’s the state’s position that this man is a danger to the community and that he was responsible for these deaths and his DUI blood alcohol test was very high,” the prosecutor told the judge.

Lawrence told the judge he supports five children and takes care of his 97-year old mother. He added that he could not afford a lawyer and would need a public defender.

D’Oench stopped at Lawrence’s home in Northwest Miami-Dade and was told by a woman at the home that Lawrence “was a good person.” She told D’Oench that Lawrence’s mother did not want to say anything.

Lawrence was heading north on Northwest 7th Avenue Friday evening when he reportedly lost control near the intersection of Northwest 75th Street, and slammed Aljo Hamlin and Wilton Harris who were talking outside. Both men died.

Wilton Harris was a pastor at the St. Barnabas Wesleyan Methodist church, but he often took his sermons to Jumbo’s. He preached there just two weeks ago on Father’s Day.

The truck also hit a parked car which crashed through the entrance of Jumbo’s Restaurant.

Eleven customers were at the restaurant at the time. Some narrowly escaped the car’s path.

“I stand here as a miracle,” Ken Knight said. “We were all there together, but somehow God chose to spare our lives.”

Knight said his friend, Demetrius Allen, pushed him out of harm’s way.

Knight wasn’t hurt, but he lost a dear friend in Harris. Knight said he has a message for the driver.

“It would have been better for him had he killed himself then to do what he has done,” Knight said.

Wilton Harris’s widow said Sunday she can’t hate the person responsible.

“I can’t have animosity,” Renee Harris said. “God is the final judge of the man who did this.”

She said the death of her husband left her “numb.

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