Wife and daughter testify to strained relationship between accused and victim in first degree murder trial

Bernie Herman leaves the Court of King’s Bench following the opening day of his first degree murder trial. Herman is accused of killing Braden Herman, no relation, in May 2021. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Bernie Herman’s wife, daughter, and one of his former co-workers with the Prince Albert RCMP all took the stand as Herman’s first degree murder trial resumed at the Court of King’s Bench on Tuesday.

Sgt. Curtis Bradbury, one of the Prince Albert Police Service officers who investigated the case, also testified during a busy day of proceedings. Herman is accused of killing 26-year-old Braden Herman, no relation, in May 2021.

Bernie’s wife, Janice, told the court the family invited Braden to move in with them sometime in March 2018. At first, Janice said, it was a great arrangement. Braden helped with chores, like dish-washing, applied for a job, and was accepted into trade school to study carpentry.

However, that changed after a few months. Although they got along in the beginning, Janice told the court Braden’s attitude started to change. He became “aggressive”, and “always wanted his way.” She also told the court Braden would become upset when Bernie hugged or kissed her after getting home from work, or if Bernie failed to answer his calls or texts.

“He always created drama,” Janice told the court.

Janice also told the court Braden had anxiety attacks and needed Bernie to lay down beside him while going to sleep. When asked how she felt about that, she said it hurt.

Janice testified that Braden became violent, and would push and shove Bernie. She eventually kicked Braden out of the house after an altercation while her parents were visiting.

She told the court Braden also broke her glasses three times, once by slapping her, and once by kicking her in the head afters he slipped and fell. She also told the court Braden damaged their house multiple times by punching holes in walls, smashing pictures, and pushing her jeep into the garage door with his car.

Janice told the court she started documenting any confrontations with Braden to defend herself and Bernie on social media. The court saw several photos taken by Janice showing bruises, cuts, and scrapes which she said were caused by Braden.

“There are so many incidents that I don’t remember all of it,” she told the court.

Before May 11, 2021, Janice told the court Bernie had no injuries to his mouth or teeth. Afterwards, she said, he had a broken tooth.

Janice continued to see Braden socially at bars or residences around Prince Albert. She would occasionally go on coffee runs with him, and he once asked her to purchased alcohol. Janice told the court she was scared of Braden and tried to avoid him.

Two pictures were shown in court of Janice and Braden next to each other at a social gathering.

Janice told the court they did not press charges against Braden until officers from the Prince Albert Service told the couple they were going to release Braden unless he was charged.

She also told the court Braden sent texts saying he would not quit until they accepted him back.

Braden was under court order not to contact the family after being charged, Janice said. Some of her social interactions with Braden occurred while the order was in place.

Jana MacDonald, Bernie and Janice’s 32-year-old daughter, also testified on Tuesday. MacDonald told the court the family’s relationship with Braden started well, but that changed as the relationship between Braden and her father “got weird”.

MacDonald said the two initially interacted like friends, and then like father/son, playing catch with a football. She told the court they two started to hold hands inside the house, and eventually slept in the same bed.

MacDonald testified that she never saw Braden become violent. She only heard stories.

When Braden texted her and the day he died, MacDonald said she ignored it because she didn’t want any contact with Braden. She said the text message was “mostly gibberish” she didn’t take seriously.

Braden became emotional halfway through her testimony, pausing once to dab her eyes with a tissue. She later affirmed that May 11 was the day her life changed.

RCMP Cpl. Kevin Carreau also testified Tuesday afternoon. Carreau was stationed at the Prince Albert RCMP detachment, with Bernie Herman as his supervisor in the Combined Traffic Division.

Carreau testified that they both were at an ATV training course on May 11. Carreau told the court he heard snatches of a phone conversation where Herman calmly told an unknown caller to leave him alone.

Carreau testified that Herman seemed normal during the ATV afternoon training session. When Herman wanted to take his uniform and belt home to clean off the dust, Carreau said he “didn’t think twice about it.”

Carreau also testified that Herman would ignore certain phone calls, sometimes all day, and came to work twice with injures: a black eye, and cuts.

The trial resumes on Wednesday morning at the Court of King’s Bench.