Murder trial back on for June


A murder trial that was canceled at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak last year is back on for June 1.

Adam A. Bernard is accused in the July 8, 2017, beating of Brian Cook in the Gardnerville Ranchos, who prosecutors contend died of his injuries three weeks later. Bernard is denying the charge.

On Monday, District Judge Tom Gregory reassured attorneys that he intends to have jury trials.

“It looks like an ever improving situation,” he said. “I’m not ready to say exactly how it will go because circumstances are changing constantly, hopefully for the better.”

Gregory said he has already made arrangements to hold jury selection at a site away from the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, where prospective jurors can spread out and wear masks.

Bernard is being represented by Maria Pence and Brian Filter. Prosecutors Erik Levin and Patrick Ferguson will represent the state. The trial is expected to take a month.

• A 42-year-old man admitted he cracked a man’s skull open in a Sept. 30, 2020, altercation in downtown Gardnerville.

Jesse Alan Bivens entered a guilty plea to battery with substantial bodily harm on Monday.

The felony carries 1-5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Bivens is accused of crossing Highway 395 and knocking down the victim. The man suffered from a fractured skull that required hospitalization.

Sentencing in the case was set for 2:30 p.m. April 19 after attorney Matthew Ence said he would be calling witnesses.

•A Reno woman faces 2-15 years in prison after she admitted to high-level possession off a controlled substance

Megan Danielle Agosto, 36, has been in custody since her Dec. 17, 2020, arrest in connection with the delivery of 101 grams of methamphetamine.

She is scheduled to be sentenced May 4. Under a plea agreement prosecutors won’t pursue trafficking charges but will be free to argue for any lawful sentence.

The charge also carries a fine of $50,000.

Agosto waived her preliminary hearing on Feb. 17.

A 61-year-old man who was arrested the same day is scheduled to return to East Fork Justice Court on March 24.

Lewis Alan Berluti has also been in custody since Dec. 17.

• Two men were in court on Monday who stole from a home they were supposed to be working on at some point during five months between Sept. 1, 2019 and Jan. 31, 2020.

Robert Loyd Davis, 42, was granted diversion on a theft charge on condition he serve 60 days in jail over weekends, pay $4,237.21 in restitution and complete Western Nevada Regional Drug Court.

A California man who was working with Davis, a Carson Valley electrician, admitted to passing forged checks written on a checkbook taken from the victim’s north Valley home.

Douglas Collamore Hitchcock, 33, admitted to the felony charge and is scheduled to be sentenced to 1-4 years in prison.

The victim testified that the items taken, including several construction items, a firearm, an iPad and jewelry, weren’t left in plain sight.

She said as part of the theft, her security camera was disabled and its storage wiped. The thieves were also careful to cover their tracks, and were able to conceal the thefts until she received a call from a check-cashing business about one of the checks.

She testified that just before Christmas, Davis claimed someone had broken into his own home and that he didn’t have money to buy presents for his children.

“I paid him $250 for his kids and he repaid me by stealing from me,” she said.

Davis said his father died five years ago, and to help deal with the grief he’d been given an oxycontin. That fueled an opiate addiction that resulted in loss of his business and a divorce.

He went to rehab before any charges were filed., attorney Maria Pence said

“My life was out of control,” he said. “I just couldn’t live like that anymore. Everything I worked hard for was taken away from me.”

As part of the deferral, Davis could avoid being convicted of a felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

• An Arizona man who hopped into a running vehicle in Carson City and was found later that morning after it ran out of gas in Wellington admitted a count of attempted possession of a stolen vehicle on Tuesday.

Robert Allen Taylor was working as an electrician at the hospital when he got homesick and took a 2004 Jeep belonging to another worker.

Under a plea agreement, he could face either a felony or gross misdemeanor in the case. The felony carries a maximum of four years in prison. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will argue for the gross misdemeanor.


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