Arnez Yaron Jamison appeared distraught as he came into a bond hearing Tuesday using a wheelchair.
The 27-year-old was denied bond after Friday's DUI-related crash that led to the death of four children, two of whom were his own.
Jamison is charged with four counts of felony DUI resulting in death, driving under suspension, driving an uninsured motor vehicle and child endangerment.
Greenville County magistrate James Hudson told Jamison in court Tuesday afternoon that his bond will have to be determined in by a Circuit Court judge at a later date because of the seriousness of the charges.
Criminal records show Jamison has a history of traffic-related offenses over the past several years. Meanwhile, Jamison's family described him as "a man with a good heart" despite struggling through life.
"He is the sweetest, most generous boy that really screwed up. He would do anything for anyone," said Carol McNeil, who said she raised Jamison, her cousin, as if he were her own son. "If anyone knows first thing about him, it's that he loved his kids. He loved his kids. All of them."
After the wreck, Jamison was initially taken to the Greenville Memorial Hospital, according to the state Highway Patrol. He was then booked in the Greenville County jail.
McNeil said Jamison's mother died when he was 11 years old and has struggled with depression since the loss. McNeil, of North Carolina, traveled to visit Jamison in the hospital after the crash.
"He said, 'I don’t want to live anymore,'" she told The Greenville News on Tuesday. "Without his kids, there’s nothing to live for."
'He's not a monster'
The crash took place around 12:30 a.m. Friday on State 253, according to the Coroner's Office.
Three children — Arnez Yaron Jamison, Jr., 4, Robbiana Evans, 6, and Jamire Halley, 8 — died at the scene of the crash. Ar'mani Jamison, 2, died at the hospital.
Jamison was using a wheelchair during his Tuesday bond hearing. He did not speak other than saying "Yes, sir" to the magistrate when asked a question. He shook his head while filling out paperwork.
Arnez Jr. and Ar'mani were his biological children, though he helped raise all of them as his own, McNeil said.
"I want the community to know that he’s a good kid," McNeil said. "I understand they're upset and mad, but he’s not a monster. He loved his kids. If he can sacrifice his own life for them, he would. I want the community to stop bashing him. We all make mistakes."
The siblings killed were all the children of Travelers Rest woman Jacqueline Brown. She told The Greenville News that her children meant the world to her.
"I’m just incomplete now without them,” she said Monday. “They were my everything — my heart, my blood, my breath, my motivation. They helped me get through everything I needed to get through.”
History of run-ins with the law
In June 2015, police responded to Brown and Jamison's apartment on Brooks Pointe Circle for a domestic disturbance, according to an incident report obtained from the Travelers Rest Police Department. The report states that a 911 caller could hear Jamison yelling, "Don't make me knock you out."
An officer arrived to find blood on Jamison's clothing and could smell a strong odor of alcohol on him.
The report states that Jamison had come home after drinking with friends to pick up more alcohol when Brown told him he had had enough. That's when Jamison became angry and punched a hole in their wall, according to the report.
Jamison's emotions were continually up and down, going from anger to sadness, according to the report. At one point during Jamison's arrest, he tried to kick out a window to a police vehicle and later threatened some of the officers, the report states. He pleaded guilty in July 2015 to third-degree domestic violence and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail, according to Greenville County court records.
Another Travelers Rest police report details a hit-and-run in March 2016 when two separate vehicles were struck in separate locations. Jamison was identified as a suspect and arrested after officers found him in his apartment. In that case, he pleaded guilty in August 2016 and was sentenced to 18 months probation, court records show.
In an incident in May 2016, officers responded to a Walmart where Jamison's vehicle was parked in a fire lane. Officers told Jamison to step out of the vehicle and could detect a strong odor of alcohol on him, according to a report.
Jamison resisted arrest and caused officers to fight with him for several minutes before he was placed in handcuffs, the report says. He was charged with public disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in that case. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, court records show.
Later in 2016, he was given a trespass notice from the Brooks Pointe apartment complex and on Nov. 11, 2016, officers were contacted by the apartment manager who reported him being there.
Officers found Jamison sleeping in an upstairs bedroom and while escorting him out of the apartment, he tried to run away and caused officers to tackle him to the ground, the report states. Court records show he pleaded guilty to hindering a police officer and violating a trespass notice and ordered to pay a $1087.50 fine.
Support from the community
An online fundraiser had raised more than $45,000 for Brown as of Tuesday. That fundraiser was created by Crystal Griffith, one of Brown's co-workers at the KFC/Taco Bell in Travelers Rest.
Griffith told The Greenville News on Saturday that Brown would frequently bring her children to work and talk about them constantly. She said the restaurant staff was also struggling to cope with the loss.
A separate fundraiser created by Grace Jones, who said she is Arnez Jamison's cousin, had raised about $1,400 as of Tuesday.
McNeil said the guilt Jamison feels from the crash is "killing him."
"That’s my son. That’s my son. I’m going to fight and do whatever I have to do," she said.