River Ridge man suspected of killing his brother also ran over a pedestrian, authorities believe _lowres

Gary Nunenmacher

A River Ridge man was booked this week in the death of a pedestrian in a March traffic crash in New Orleans — just as he learned that Jefferson Parish officials would not be charging him for killing his brother with a knife to the heart in April.

Gary Nunenmacher, 28, was booked on one count of criminally negligent homicide in the crash, which apparently set off a chain of events that would lead to his brother Ryan’s death.

Ad hoc Magistrate Judge Walter Rothschild set bail for the Iraq War veteran on Thursday during his first appearance in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

“I certainly appreciate your service to your country,” Rothschild said.

“Thank you, your honor,” Nunenmacher replied, as he stood erect and locked eyes with the judge.

“But we have a death here,” Rothschild continued, setting the defendant’s bail at $75,000. Prosecutors had asked for $250,000.

Police believe Nunenmacher killed 24-year-old Colin Mazzola in the accident at the crosswalk at North Claiborne and Franklin avenues about 7 a.m. March 14. In addition to the negligent homicide count, Nunenmacher has been booked on failure to obey a traffic signal.

According to his lawyer, Brigid Collins, Nunenmacher was on his way to attend drill with the Air National Guard when his gray Nissan Titan truck hit the victim. She said he then stopped to render aid.

Nunenmacher was not taken into custody in Orleans Parish until Wednesday, the same day Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office refused a second-degree murder charge against him in the April 23 stabbing death of his brother.

Nunenmacher stabbed his brother Ryan, 22, once in the heart, authorities said. The two were arguing over the Nissan truck, which had been impounded after the March crash. Gary Nunenmacher then dropped his brother off at East Jefferson General Hospital and fled on foot before turning himself in at his lawyer’s office hours later.

Collins said her client killed his brother in self-defense.

Connick’s office refused the charge against Nunenmacher on Wednesday, ending the murder case.“The evidence suggested that Ryan was the aggressor and that he at one point had the knife that ultimately led to his demise,” said David Wolff, chief of screening for the Jefferson DA’s Office.

Family members had told the DA’s Office that Gary Nunenmacher suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which might be related to his military service. But Wolff said mental health issues played no role in the decision to drop the charge.

Nunenmacher’s attorney does not dispute that he killed the victim in either case.

“I just think it’s two tragic incidents that unfortunately happened to this man in a short period of time,” Collins said after the hearing. “The fact that he’s still able to stand up the way he just did in court and keep it together is pretty impressive.”