A $50,000 bond was set by Judge Clarence Shattuck for the release of Cody Gilliland, 29. The defendant was charged with criminally negligent homicide following the July 2 death of his fiancée, Lauren Bonnema, 25.
The incident happened at the Hidden Creek Apartments in East Brainerd shortly after 8 pm. Gilliland told police he had gone to look at a rifle in his bedroom. He said Ms. Bonnema was cooking dinner and her seven-month-old baby was playing in the living room.
The defendant said his dog followed him into the bedroom, and when he became upset, yelling and kicking at the dog, the gun went off. Police found Ms. Bonnema on the floor with a gunshot wound to the face. They said there was a blood-spattered bullet hole in the door of the master bedroom and that the AR 15 was soaked in blood.
During testimony on Tuesday, Gilliland told Judge Shattuck he had enlisted in the Marines in 2008 and saw action in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He said he was honorably discharged and has suffered mental issues since serving, including intermittent explosive disorder and PTSD.
The defendant said he was hoping to make bond and stay at his mother’s house in Ringgold. Gilliland’s mother and other family members were present in court.
“He’s always a good kid,” said his mother. “Always laid back. Just a good person. Never got in any trouble. Just always a good person and always has been.”
District Attorney Andrew Coyle said the main considerations were that Gilliland “not be around any weapons” and have no contact with the victim’s family, including her seven-month-old daughter, who is now in the custody of her grandparents.
The defendant agreed to these terms through tears, saying he had planned to adopt the child. He also said he owns ten weapons but no longer has those in his possession. His mother also agreed to removing any guns from her home.
“We’ll do anything we have to,” she said.
“At this point in time, the charge is criminally negligent homicide,” said Judge Shattuck. “I don’t indicate any criminal intent but the fact is we still have a death involved.”
After setting the bond and conditions, arrangements were made to return some of the baby’s belongings, including a crib, to her grandparents.
“There’s no question this is a tragic thing that happened,” said Judge Shattuck. “It’s a tragic situation. All of it.”
Gilliland will return to court on Monday, Aug. 27.