WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The man accused of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a woman last April was found guilty on all charges Thursday and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes before returning a guilty verdict for William Bernicki, who was charged with breaking into Brittany Fullwood’s Monkey Junction home and shooting her five times on April 25, 2017.
District Attorney Ben David said the verdict came back in 29 minutes.
Brittany Fullwood’s parents, Christine and Raymond, expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the trial.
“I am extremely happy with the verdict today,”said Christine. “The whole family misses Brittany terribly. Not a day goes by I don’t think about her.”
“It’s a very traumatic experience, 20 months waiting for this," Raymond added. "We loved our daughter very much. We are going to miss her every day, and we’re just happy that she received the justice she fully deserved and this man will spend the rest of his natural life in prison.”
After the shooting, Bernicki, of Lumberton, was found nearby with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his face.
Fullwood’s then 3-year-old son was at the home at the time of the shooting. He was found unharmed by deputies shortly after they arrived at the scene.
Bernicki’s attorney has filed an appeal.
David said this case’s outcome is symbolic for victims of violent murders.
“I think the strong message here is that someone who breaks into someone’s home with a gun and commits a brutal act that is gratuitous in its violence will not only not receive any plea offer from this office, and William Bernicki never did, but a jury is just not going to tolerate it," said David.
According to David, Fullwood’s murder is connected to drug addiction, but the DA said we should not dehumanize drug-addicted people.
“She met a man who ultimately ended up killing her through this addiction, and we regard this in many ways as yet another way heroin cost someone their life," said David.
Even though Fullwood’s killer will spend the rest of his life in prison, her parents say they are fighting another battle over Brittany’s son.
Christine said she has not seen her grandson since Dec. 4, 2017, and the 4-year-old boy has since been adopted by another family.
Raymond said he has contacted Governor Roy Cooper, President Donald Trump, Representative Ted Davis, and other politicians about their fight to see their grandson.
“It’s judicial kidnapping,” said Christine. “It would be the best Christmas gift in the world to see our grandson.”