ELYRIA — A Grafton truck driver who spent 18 years in prison for a Coshocton County murder has asked a county judge to lift a ban that prohibits him from using firearms so he can go hunting.
Under the law, people convicted of felonies are barred from owning, using or even holding guns, but a judge can lift the ban, attorney Kenneth Lieux said.
Lieux filed the request to lift the ban on Kevin Bernaciak on Tuesday, asking that he be allowed to use guns for the limited purpose hunting of deer, rabbits, pheasants and squirrels during the appropriate hunting seasons.
“He’s living in Grafton, working and just wants to be able to go hunting,” Lieux said.
Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said although he isn’t familiar with the facts of Bernaciak’s case, he doesn’t like the idea of a convicted killer being allowed to use a gun.
“I think there’s an issue with that, personally,” he said.
But Will also said he needs to review the request before deciding on his office’s formal position.
Lieux said his client was charged with the murder in 1986 and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in 1987. Bernaciak served the minimum sentence before being released on parole in 2001. He was on parole until 2006.
Lieux said he hasn’t reviewed the case file from Coshocton County, either, but Bernaciak told him that he shot and killed a man on a hunting trip, although he insisted it was an accident.
He said Bernaciak told him the victim was drinking and knocked him down, he then grabbed a gun and the weapon went off. Lieux said Bernaciak took the case to trial and was found guilty of the murder charge.
He said his client has led a law-abiding life since being released from prison.
“He paid his dues to society,” Lieux said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.