The two Texas drug couriers charged in Friday's shooting of two women and two young children in a squalid Prince George's County apartment were ordered held without bond Monday, and prosecutors are exploring whether they can seek the death penalty against them, authorities said.
Appearing on a closed-circuit television, Darrell Lynn Bellard, 43, of Dickinson, and T'keisha Nicole Gilmer, 18, of Texas City, did nothing but answer Prince George's County District Court Judge Thomas Love's basic questions during the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes. Prosecutors were not given any opportunity to speak about the evidence against the pair or say why they should be held before Love ruled that their "no bond" status be continued.
In a news conference after the hearing, Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said police were still gathering evidence in the case, and prosecutors would weigh that evidence before deciding whether they could seek the death penalty.
He said recent laws require that he have either DNA linking the killer to the crime, a videotaped confession or a videotape of the crime itself, and prosecutors were "in the process" of reviewing whether they had that evidence in this case. He said he could not comment specifically on what evidence had been gathered because of ethics rules governing what he can say during an active case.
Bellard and Gilmer are accused in the deaths of Dawn Yvette Brooks, 38; Mwasiti Sikyala, 41; Shayla Shante Sikyala, 3; and Shakur Sylvester Sikyala, 4. Brooks was the mother of the children, and Mwasiti Sikyala was their paternal aunt, authorities said. All lived in the 6800 block of Third Street in the Lanham area, where their bodies were discovered about 3 a.m. Friday in a garage apartment amid piles of trash and debris.
Police have said previously that Bellard shot the four victims execution-style, firing multiple bullets into each one, and that Gilmer, 18, blocked their escape. They both admitted their involvement in the crime, which law enforcement sources have said stemmed from a dispute over a drug debt the women failed to pay.
(This post has been updated.)