PITTSYLVANIA CO., Va. (WDBJ7) UPDATE
Two new warrants were filed in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court on Friday, September 13th. One warrant is for Bernard’s cell phone, while the other is for bullet fragments left at 1949 Keeling drive, the home of Joan Bernard, Emily Bernard Bivens, 14-month old Cullen Bernard and 18-year old-Matthew Bernard, who is charged with the three murders.
According to the warrant for the bullet fragments, crime scene technician Investigator Baxter recovered several spent shell casings, ammunition, and firearms from the home. In a search warrant filed August 29th, 46 items were recovered from the home, including six cartridge casings, and one bullet. The warrant filed on the 13th states that bullet holes were observed in an old antique vehicle stored in the home’s garage. The search is “being requested as a follow up search for trajectory of the bullets and an attempt to recover and all bullet fragments/bullets inside the residence.”
The second warrant filed on September 13th is for an Apple Iphone cell phone in a black case that was discovered in the front yard of 1949 Keeling Drive. According to that warrant, the phone was found by Investigator Rick Baxter of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. The phone was shown to Matthew Bernard’s father who identified it as belonging to his son. The warrant goes on to say that State police investigator Matthew Wade searched social media site and discovered a post from Matthew Bernard indicating he was going through a divorce and to “never underestimate a Bernard.” The warrant says the post shows Mr. Bernard holding a young child.
Investigator Dusty Sheppard, who applied for and signed both warrants, said he believes the information contained in the cell phone can show where the user of the phone was located when the crimes occurred and that the information in the phone may contain information identifying a motive for the shootings. Bernard was not in possession of his cell phone when he was arrested naked on August 27th.
18-year-old Matthew Thomas Bernard was arraigned Thursday morning in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Pittsylvania County.
He is accused of murdering 62-year-old Joan Bernard, 25-year-old Emily Bivens and 14-month-old Cullen Bivens.
Bernard is charged with three counts of first degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
Judge Brian Turpin asked Bernard if he understood the charges. Bernard replied, "yes sir."
A preliminary hearing has been set for November 6, 2019. 90 minutes has been allotted for the hearing.
James Martin is representing Bernard.
Martin says he has filed a motion for evaluation of competency and sanity for Bernard that will be reviewed at the hearing.