Beating death charge upheld
June 30, 2018
While saying an open murder charge is appropriate in the case, East Fork Justice of the Peace Tom Perkins suggested both sides work out a settlement in the case of a man accused of beating Gardnerville Ranchos man to death last summer.
On Friday, Perkins ordered Adam Anthony Bernard, 40, to appear for arraignment in Douglas County District Court.
Prosecutor Peter Handy showed a video of the July 8, 2017, beating that the state asserts was responsible for the death of Gardnerville Ranchos resident Brian Cook.
According to court documents, Cook died July 30 after being in a coma for three weeks.
Defense attorney Maria Pence asked that Perkins find there wasn't sufficient evidence that the fight killed Cook.
She argued that at a .45 blood alcohol content, he had a lethal level of alcohol in his bloodstream. She said the pathologist could not state for certain that Cook's death was due to the beating.
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She tried to demonstrate that Bernard was in fear he would be attacked by Cook, who he claimed had threatened to blind him on more than one occasion.
Bernard, Cook and a third man were all drinking together that night. She pointed out that at .182, Bernard's blood alcohol content was the lowest of the three.
Cook and Bernard got into an argument, so Bernard and the third man went to another home.
Cook drove over to the home on Manhattan, where the video showed him confront Bernard. The two men fought, with Cook going down in the street. The security footage shows Bernard punching Curtis several times in the head, before he got up and kicked him several times, also in the head.
Deputies responded to Manhattan Way just before 10 p.m. on a report of two people dragging a body out of the street.
When they arrived, deputies saw two men walking toward an open garage when one of them waved deputies over.
Cook was on his back in front of a pickup wearing only a pair of shorts with a large amount of blood on his forehead, according to deputies.
Investigator Jon Storke testified that he obtained security footage from a neighbor in November, which didn't match the story Bernard and his friend told deputies earlier.
When confronted with the video, Storke said Bernard said he must have blacked out.
Perkins said he's seen similar cases resolved as involuntary manslaughter and others that were determined to be murder.
But he said he believed that the pathologist was clear when she said the cause of death was blunt force trauma.