Police: Ore. inmate plotted death of abuse victim

AP News
Posted: Sep 01, 2011 8:22 PM
Police: Ore. inmate plotted death of abuse victim

An Oregon man hoped to get out of jail by having a 10-year-old girl killed before she could testify in court that he sexually assaulted her, authorities said.

The plan fell apart, however, when another inmate went to police because he was outraged.

Jared Anthony Bernal, 24, had been scheduled to go on trial Thursday in Eugene, Ore., on charges he sodomized and sexually abused the girl. That trial was postponed. Police said Bernal was a friend of the girl's family.

The affidavit by Springfield police, first reported by The Register-Guard newspaper, said Bernal bragged to his brother that he would be out of jail by Wednesday.

Instead, he was standing in front of a judge for arraignment on more serious charges alleging that he tried to arrange the murder of a child under 14 who was a witness in a criminal case, prosecutor Patty Perlow said.

No plea was entered at his arraignment, Perlow said.

Defense attorney Lindsay Fowler said she could not comment on the case.

The affidavit said that Bernal talked to fellow inmate Venus Vishal Chand to arrange for Chand's cousin to kill the girl and another person. Bernal's brother was supposed to get a gun and give it to the cousin, the affidavit said.

After Chand went to police Aug. 23 with a map of the home of the girl and other evidence he got from Bernal, investigators had an undercover detective stand in for Chand's cousin to contact the brother.

Sgt. David Lewis said Chand, who faces trial on gun and robbery charges and is wanted in two other states, came forward without any thought of getting a deal.

Chand "found out what (Bernal) was in there for, and then found out he was trying to have her killed, and wasn't having any of it," Lewis said.

Detectives listened in on Bernal's phone calls to his brother, Justin Scott Wright.

"He tried to speak in code, but wasn't very good at it," Lewis said.

Called in by police, Wright told investigators that he "never intended to assist" in making it happen.