A man accused of killing his mother, sister and infant nephew last month made his first court appearance Thursday in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Matthew Bernard, 18, of Keeling spoke sparingly throughout his hearing before Judge Brian Turpin on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a homicide.

“Do you understand these charges?” Turpin asked.

“Yes, sir,” Bernard replied.

When asked if he would work with his defense attorney, James Martin, Bernard again replied, “Yes, sir.”

Bernard is accused of killing his mother Joan Bernard, 62, his sister Emily Bernard Bivens, 25, and her 14-month-old son Cullen Micah Bivens on Aug. 27.

Turpin set a preliminary hearing for Bernard on Nov. 6. Initially, Turpin suggested an earlier date, but changed it due to a scheduling conflict raised by Pittsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Haskins.

“We have filed a motion for a competence and sanity evaluation,” Martin said.

The evaluation is to be completed by Oct. 31, according to the order signed by Turpin.

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Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.