FIRST ON 3: Berger found GUILTY of breaking protective order; Sentenced to 48 hour in custody
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger made it on time for court this morning. He’s charged with violating a protection order taken aout against him by his former girlfriend, Heather Blaylock. Last year, he showed up at a Head Start meeting claiming he didn’t know that was the same location Blaylock teaches at. The hearing was originally scheduled for last Friday, but Berger didn’t show up and was later arrested for “failure to appear.”
Judge Holt would not allow cameras in the courtroom but Katie is Tweeting updates. We’ll be updating this story as she sends updates or you can follow us at www.Twitter.com/WWAY.
Berger’s mental evaluation completed ; deemed competent to stand trail. Results not public.
Berger entered a not guilty plea. Heather Blaylock first witness. Says Berger knew she worked at HeadStart
Thom Goolsby (Berger’s attorney) says address listed on public forum notice lists wrong address for HeadStart building on N. 6th Street.
HeadStart Executive Director Cynthia Brown says she immediately questioned the appropriateness of Berger attending the meeting Nov. 21
Brown says Berger was not a representative for the county commission at the meeting.
Brown says Berger came to the meeting after the public hearing portion was completed.
Sgt. Curtis Barnhill with NHC Sheriff’s Office on the stand; says he spoke to Berger about attendance at meeting.
Barnhill says Berger said he assumed Blaylock wasn’t at meeting because of her kids.
Barnhill says he warned Berger he could have been arrested if Blaylock had been present; Berger said he was doing his job as commissioner
Berger on stand; says he attended multiple meetings Nov. 21 other than HeadStart meeting, could not remember which ones.
Berger says he was intrigued to attend HeadStart meeting because of corruption within the organization.
Berger says he felt if he wasn’t present at a meeting where potential corruption was discussed, he would be doing a disservice to voters.
Berger says he thought the HeadStart meeting was being held at a church and confused the auditorium for a gymnasium.
Berger says he found out he was at HeadStart building after Sgt. Barnhill told him he was at Blaylock’s workplace.
Berger said he didn’t know Blaylock worked at HeadStart; contradicts what Sgt. Barnhill says Berger said the night of the meeting
Berger says the HeadStart building and organization are not listed on order. Says he would have to keep tabs on her to have the info.
Closing arguments: defense says Berger didn’t act “knowingly” when going to meeting Nov. 21
Closing arguments: prosecution says the order says Berger can’t go to Blaylock’s place of business at any time even if Blaylock isnt present
Commissioner Brian Berger found guilty of violating a domestic violence protection order issued Sept. 16th
Judge Shelly Holt: “order says plainly to say away from her place of employment.”
Holt: reaction to finding out violated order was not a good response – should have left building immediately
Berger in custody for 48 hours – still under order. $25,000 secured bond set.
More: continued here