Man convicted in brutal beatdown

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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Jacob Seth

A Kenbridge man was convicted in Lunenburg Circuit Court recently for aggressively beating his 62-year-old neighbor, knocking him to the ground and punching him repeatedly while holding him in a headlock. In addition to bruising, the victim suffered a one and a half inch cut above his eyebrow.

According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement, “Jacob Seth Bernard, 18, formerly of Kenbridge, was convicted of the felony of Unlawful Wounding . Judge William Watson, Jr. presided over the two-hour trial. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney J. Baxter Stegall tried the case on behalf of the Commonwealth. Bernard will be sentenced on Jan. 14 after the preparation of a presentence report by a probation officer. He is currently free on bond.”

A release from the Commonwealth attorneys office stated, “Bernard’s mother, Katrina Stodt, testified that that on Oct. 13, 2018, she had heard that her daughter had been over at the neighbor’s house on South Broad Street in Kenbridge without her knowledge earlier in the day when the victim and his family were at home. She said that she wanted to know why. She acknowledged in court that her daughter was at her home at that time, but still wanted to confront the victim’s family, although she did not allege any wrongdoing on their part. She said there had been a history of ill-will between the two families.

“Testimony at trial revealed that this occurred after 10 p.m. with pounding on the door of the house for about five minutes.

“The homeowner, Gilles Charette, testified that he awoke to the sound of the pounding and came downstairs to see what was wrong. When he opened the door, Stodt and Bernard immediately began screaming and cursing at him, asking why the daughter had been there. He said he didn’t know what they were talking about, and told them to leave.

“Both repeatedly tried to get past him into the house to confront Charette’s wife. Charette ordered them to leave the house repeatedly. He said he tried to block them from coming into the house. He testified that Stodt continued to try to push past him, and bumped into Charette. Charette once again commanded them to leave the house.

“According to the testimony, Bernard then became upset, yelling at Charette that he couldn’t speak to his mother that way. Bernard then punched Charette in the head. Charette reached out and grabbed Bernard’s shirt, and Bernard tripped him to the ground. Once on the ground, Bernard got Charette in a headlock and punched him at least 12 times in the face and head. Charette never struck Bernard. Bernard continued to assault the victim until Charette’s son came to the doorway and ordered him to stop.

“Bernard then retreated and he and his mother left the property. The Charettes immediately called the police, and Kenbridge Officer Sam Finch responded and conducted the investigation. He took pictures of the laceration (approximately 1.5”) above Charette’s eyebrow, and interviewed Bernard. Bernard admitted to assaulting Charette, holding him in a headlock on the ground and punching him repeatedly. He claimed he was only defending his mother, a defense that he raised at trial.

“Bernard testified that he had gone over there, that his mother was “agitated,” and that he was there “to support her.” He admitted he struck Charette, tripped him to the ground, got him in a headlock and continued to punch him at least 12 times. Bernard admitted he caused the laceration to Charette’s eyebrow.

“Judge Watson rejected the claim of defense of others, as well as self-defense, and convicted Bernard of Unlawful Wounding, a violent felony. Bernard has no criminal history. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 14, 2020, at 9:30 a.m.”