Court files: Man punched neighbor before killing 3 relatives

CHATHAM, Va. (AP) — Court documents say a Virginia man accused of killing the wife, 1-year-old son, and mother-in-law of a minor league baseball player punched a neighbor just before the neighbor heard gunshots and discovered their bodies.

A criminal complaint released Thursday says the neighbor told police that 18-year-old Matthew Bernard came to her house shortly before the killings Tuesday in Keeling.

Bernard faces three counts of first-degree murder.

The complaint says police found a sledgehammer with blood on it in the garage and a rifle behind the victims’ house.

Bernard’s sister, Emily Bernard Bivens, his nephew, Cullen Bivens, and his mother, Joan Bernard, were killed.

Emily Bivens was married to Blake Bivens, a pitcher for Alabama’s Montgomery Biscuits, a Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Cullen Bivens was the couple’s son.

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