CHARLOTTE -- Tyler Stasko, charged with three counts of second-degree murder in an April 4 wreck that claimed three lives, was released from jail Monday on $45,000 bond.
Mecklenburg District Judge Theo Nixon just hours earlier had set Stasko's bond at $15,000 for each count of murder. The 20-year-old has been held without bond at the jail since his release from the hospital.
Nixon ordered Stasko, accused of killing a teenager and a mother and her toddler, to surrender his driver's license and not drive while awaiting trial. He's also not allowed to leave the state.
Stasko, still in a wheelchair recovering from the wreck, cried as he listened to his lawyer read excerpts from letters from supporters. They described him as a kind, caring and gentle young man who has been active in his church and would never knowingly hurt anyone.
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The father of the dead teenager told the judge: "While you heard letters from people who knew Tyler, we represent thousands who live with the pain...my son will not play his first baseball game...he will not go home tonight."
Defense attorney Kevin Barnett said Stasko regrets the pain the victims' families are going through.
"This is a kid who is really feeling remorse," Barnett told the Observer. "He's truly sorry for what has happened to the victims and their families...But for making a bad decision, he's a good kid. Very polite. Very respectful."
Police say witnesses told them the Mitsubishi Eclipse Stasko was racing a Chevy Camaro at speeds exceeding 80 mph when it collided with a Mercedes entering N.C. 49 from the RiverPointe neighborhood near Lake Wylie.
The driver of the Mercedes, 45-year-old Winthrop University assistant professor Cynthia Furr, died at the scene. Her daughter, 2-year-old McAllister, died later at Carolinas Medical Center.
Hunter Holt, a 13-year-old Clover Junior High School student, was a passenger in Stasko's car and died the following day.
Authorities have seized a black Camaro suspected of being involved in the race, and police are investigating a report that a 44-year-old York woman was behind the wheel of the car. The driver of the Camaro has not been charged.