LEAGUE CITY, Texas – A League City man who brutally shot and killed his wife in front of their family on Thanksgiving three years ago could possibly spend the next three decades behind bars, according to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
On Friday, a Galveston County district judge sentenced Dudley Joseph Bernard to 30 years in prison in the cold-blooded murder of his wife, Chauntelle Linnea Bernard.
According to a press release from the DA’s Office, on Nov. 28, 2019, Bernard called 911 and claimed that he had accidently shot his wife at their home in League City.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found Mrs. Bernard’s sister running back and forth at the home, screaming “he killed my sister,” and saw that the back door had been kicked in. Officers found the victim’s body in the foyer of her home, with several shell casings on the floor nearby. The victim’s mother and minor children were also in the home.
Officers arrested the husband and charged him with murder.
Dudley Bernard went to trial before a jury in August. At trial, the state called neighbors of the Bernards, who told the jury that the couple were good, normal neighbors. No one in the South Shore Harbor neighborhood knew that, behind closed doors, the couple struggled with infidelity and marital strife, proecutors said.
Through testimony of the victim’s sister and eyewitness, Trinelle Merricks, the State alleged Mrs. Bernard shouted to her sister that he was going to get his gun. The State showed evidence of Ring camera footage captured by a neighbor that Mr. Bernard walked to his truck and grabbed his weapon before he returned to the back of the house and kicked in the back door, pushing aside the victim’s sister, and shot Mrs. Bernard in the arm and side, side of her head, then as she lay on the ground, he fired six rounds into the back of her head.
The evidence showed that Dudley Bernard emptied an entire 13-round .45 caliber magazine. A minor child of the victim, whose birthday was the following day, heard the gunshots and observed his mother dead on the ground. A detective testified this was one of the most brutal crime scenes he had responded to in his over 30 years as a police officer.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty on Aug. 5, and Bernard chose to have punishment assessed by the judge.
On Oct. 7, Judge John Ellisor conducted a punishment hearing where he heard evidence from Merricks about the effect of this murder on her family, and the two minor boys she is now raising.
Merricks testified that her little sister was a light in their family, and they miss her every day.
The court heard from the defendant who testified that he was abused by his wife and changed his story from the initial Presentencing Investigation Report.
Defense called witnesses from a 2014 dispatch from LCPD where Mr. Bernard showed a small scratch that he claimed his wife inflicted. No one was arrested in that incident. The Defense provided no other evidence of abuse aside from the defendant’s testimony.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Whitney Rasberry argued to the court that Mr. Bernard is a dangerous man who would kill again, if released. Rasberry asked the judge to start at 60 years when considering the appropriate punishment.
On Oct. 28, Judge Ellisor handed down his sentence. Bernard will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.