Charged

Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18

Counsel for Matthew Thomas Bernard, 18, was appointed by Judge Brian Turpin according to paperwork obtained Thursday, Sept. 12 from Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. 

According to the paperwork, Bernard either refused to employ or waive his right to an attorney.

Bernard is charged with three counts of first degree murder after Joan Denise Jefferson Bernard, 62; Emily Bernard Bivens, 25; and Cullen Micah Bivens, 14 months old were all found dead at 1949 Keeling Drive Tuesday, Aug. 27.

On Thursday, Matthew Bernard appeared in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court before Judge Turpin. 

Shackled and surrounded by four members of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office, Matthew Bernard kept his answers short with appointed attorney James Martin by his side. 

"Do you understand these charges," Judge Turpin said after reading them to Matthew Bernard. 

"Yes sir," Matthew Bernard said. 

Judge Turpin asked Matthew Bernard if he could cooperate with Martin, to which he gave the answer, "Yes sir."

Martin told the court he has already filed a motion for a mental evaluation and competency exam. 

The paperwork for the evaluation indicates Bernard is in the custody of the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. 

Both the Commonwealth and the defense have filed discovery in the case already according to Judge Turpin. 

As Bernard entered and exited the courtroom, he looked around the gallery to see who was present. 

Outside the courthouse, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office guarded the back entrance as Bernard was securely loaded to be transported to an unknown location. 

The mental evaluation and competency exam are due by Oct. 31, 2019 according to court documents. 

A preliminary hearing for Matthew Bernard has been set for Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 9 a.m. in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

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