WILMINGTON — A Lumberton man who survived an attempt to kill himself is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Wilmington woman last month.
William Bernicki, 48, is accused of bursting into a home on Woods Edge Road in Wilmington on April 25 and shooting 34-year-old Brittany Fullwood several times before shooting himself in the face in what New Hanover lawmen say was a failed suicide. In a photograph of Bernicki, his injuries were apparent.
Bernicki was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment after the shooting and remained hospitalized until Friday afternoon, when warrants were served and he was taken to the New Hanover County Courthouse for his first court appearance. Bernicki, with bandages on the side of his head, his left eye closed and a bloodied face, was ordered held without bond.
After the court hearing, he was taken to Central Prison in Raleigh and put in safe keeping for additional medical treatment, according to Ben David, New Hanover County’s district attorney.
David said it is too early to determine if his office would seek the death penalty against Bernicki. David has asked the Capital Defender’s Office to provide a lawyer to defend Bernicki. The Capital Defender’s Office represents people facing the death penalty, and by law each defendant is assigned two experienced attorneys.
The murder was at Fullwood’s mother’s home. Fullwood’s 3-year-old son was in the back yard at the time of the shooting, according to reports. He was found unharmed by deputies shortly after they arrived at the scene. The boy now is in the care of Fullwood’s mother.
Police have not provided a motive. Bernicki worked in Robeson County as a self-employed electrician.
In a Facebook post soon after the murder, Charles Herzig said he was inside the home at the time of the murder.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him in time,” Herzig wrote.
Postings on Facebook suggested Herzig and Fullwood were in a romantic relationship. Herzig, who was arrested in March on an unrelated assault charge, is chief of the Northwest Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. When the Wilmington Star reached Herzig, he denied being in a relationship with Fullwood.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly