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Former CBP Officer Sentenced to Prison for Repeatedly Shooting CBP Officer Wife in the Back of the Head on Thanksgiving Day in 2019


Dudley Joseph Bernard appears in a mugshot

A Texas man and former member of U.S. Customs and Border Protection was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his wife in a shocking hail of gunfire on Thanksgiving Day in 2019.

Dudley Joseph Bernard, 43, was convicted of murder in the first degree by Galveston County jurors in early August of this year. The defendant elected to have a judge assess his sentencing after trial. On Oct. 28, 2022, Judge John Ellisor issued the sentence. Bernard will be eligible for parole after 15 years behind bars in state prison.

The defendant was arrested without incident by League City Police Department officers between 11 p.m. and midnight on the day in question, after calling 911 to say that he accidentally shot his wife.

The truth, however, was much simpler – and much more awful.

Evidence presented during trial showed that Bernard kicked in the back door of their house in League City and discharged 13 bullets during in an attack on 42-year-old Chauntelle Linnea Bernard.

In a statement to Houston-based ABC affiliate KTRK, the victim’s family said justice was served:

The Merricks’ family would like to thank the Galveston District Attorney’s office – Whitney Rasberry, Casey Kirst and the wonderful staff of the Victim’s Advocate Program. As we witnessed justice being served today with Dudley Bernard being sentence to 30 years in prison, this will bring us some comfort that this individual is no longer a threat to others, however, this will never fill the loss of losing Chauntelle Merricks Bernard.

Chauntelle was a light. When she entered a room, she captured the audience. People gravitated toward her. She had beauty and brains, but most importantly, she was a phenomenal mother.

The loss of Chauntelle’s wisdom and spirit has and will continue to have lasting effects, mostly on her boys – not having her here to witness their achievements and milestones throughout their lives. They are still too young to understand the depth of losing their mother and are already struggling to cope with the loss of both parents.

We ask for prayers for them, her elderly mother, her entire family, and her friends here in Texas.

The victim was first shot in her arm, torso, and the side of her head. Once Chauntelle Bernard was on the ground and dying, the assailant didn’t stop, he unloaded an additional six bullets into the back of her head, execution style, according to court reporting by Houston-based CBS affiliate KHOU.

Prosecutors explained to jurors that Dudley Bernard fired until he could no longer do so – expending the entirety of a 13-round, .45-caliber magazine while the victim’s sister was watching in horror.

The couple’s two sons were also in the house at the time. One of whom came into the room where the shooting occurred and saw his mother laying dead on the floor – the day before his birthday.

“This is a tragic event happening here in League City and we just want to do what we can to help the family,” LCPD spokesperson Detective John Griffith told KHOU at the time, noting that Child Protective Services were immediately involved after the shooting.

Chauntelle Bernard and her husband had both worked for CBP since 2008. Friends and family were shocked after the attack, not only by the loss but by reported infidelity and marriage problems that had plagued the couple’s relationship.

Neighbors told KHOU that the couple’s children were babysat by older children in the small community, and that the wife and husband attended church with the city’s police chaplain.

A dispute on Thanksgiving evening, prosecutors said, resulted in the killer leaving the home, briefly, to retrieve his gun from his truck, then returning to kill his wife and shatter his family forever.

When police arrived, Dudley Bernard was in the front yard. His wife was found dead on the scene near the front door.

The CBP issued a statement mourning the loss of Chauntelle Bernard.

“Since August 2008, [Dudley Bernard] has worked CBP agriculture operations in the Houston Seaport environment,” a spokesperson said. “CBP is fully cooperating with the League City Police Department who is leading this investigation. CBP Officer Chauntelle Bernard joined CBP in 2008 and she worked her way up the supervisory chain to become a supervisory CBP officer. Houston was her only duty station. No words can express the sense of loss SCBPO Bernard’s death brings to her colleagues and friends in CBP.”

[image via League City Police Department]

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