Competency, sanity evaluations ordered for man accused of murdering mom, sister, nephew

Virginia News

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The man accused of murdering his mother, sister and nephew appeared in court Thursday for an arraignment.

A judge read Matthew Bernard, 18, the charges against him, which include three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

At the hearing, the judge approved an order for a competency and sanity evaluation requested by Bernard’s attorney, WSET reported.

The judge approved an order for a competency and sanity evaluation, both request by Bernard’s attorney. The order reads that the evaluations must be conducted on an inpatient basis by qualified staff at a hospital designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (WSET)

Bernard was arrested after police warned of a dangerous gunman on the loose upon finding the bodies of Joan Bernard, Emily Bivens, and Cullen Bivens on Aug. 27 at a home in Keeling.

Officers found two victims with gunshot wounds to the head and rifle shell casings near all three bodies. A rifle was found in a wooded area behind the house and a sledgehammer with blood was found in the garage, according to court documents.

Joan Bernard, Emily Bivens, and Cullen Bivens (Pittsylvania Co. Sheriff’s Office)

After the bodies were discovered, a manhunt brought as many as 100 officers to Keeling, a tiny community near the North Carolina border.

Bernard emerged naked from the woods about four hours later, running past TV cameras to a church parking lot, where he was recorded trying to choke a church caretaker. An officer used pepper spray and struck Bernard with a baton before he was captured, officials said.

A judge read Matthew Bernard the charges against him, which is three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony (Pittsylvania Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Bernard is in the custody of the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

He will be back in court on Nov. 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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