A man accused of a triple slaying made his first court appearance Thursday in Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Matthew Bernard, 18, of Keeling, Va., 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, the teen 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 at 9 a.m. in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

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

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