The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 8, 2014

DNA results could link local woman to murder

CONNEAUT — Police in Conneaut are awaiting additional DNA results that could link a woman charged in a murder case to a Conneaut assault with guns committed in January.

In late March, Conneaut detectives obtained a search warrant from Conneaut Municipal Court Judge Thomas Harris authorizing them to obtain a DNA sample from Brianna Bernard, 19, of Ashtabula, who is in Ashtabula County Jail awaiting trial on charges stemming from a Nov. 25 fatal shooting on Hiawatha Avenue in Ashtabula. Bernard has been charged with complicity to aggravated murder. Prosecutors believe Bernard drove the getaway vehicle.

Conneaut police want to know if Bernard had a role in a January robbery at a West Main Road apartment. A preliminary DNA test on evidence found near the scene brought Bernard to the attention of investigators.

Harris issued a search warrant on March 27 that was filed with Eastern County Court because of Bernard’s status as county jail inmate. Results should be known soon, Police Chief Charles Burlingham said Monday.

At issue is an assault of a man and two women that occurred Jan. 21 at an apartment at 446 W. Main Road, according to an affidavit police filed with the court to obtain the search warrant. Two men armed with handguns kicked in the door to the apartment, Burlingham said. A woman was pistol-whipped and required medical attention, he said.

Police followed footprints in the snow to a nearby parking lot and found a freshly-discarded cigarette butt and napkin. Preliminary testing of the items indicated DNA samples from Bernard, but additional tests are needed for verification, according to the affidavit.

Bernard has also been described as a “person of interest” in a Jan. 27 shooting at a Norman Avenue address in Ashtabula that left a mother and son dead and another son seriously wounded, police said.

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