‘Stand your ground’ defense nixed by judge, Broken Arrow man faces murder trial


By John Dobberstein, Editor

A Broken Arrow man who alleged he was being attacked when he shot and killed his landlord will stand trial next spring after a Tulsa County judge overruled a request for dismissal.

An attorney for defendant Cody W. O’Bryan, Alex Bramblett, filed a motion in May asking for the first-degree murder charge against his client to be dismissed, arguing that O’Bryan’s actions were justified due to Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The motion also asked for a evidentiary hearing.

O’Bryan is accused of pulling a gun from his waistband and shooting Paul Stephen Bernius IV several times. The motion said O’Bryan was a “lawful occupant” at 104 W. Waco Place in Broken Arrow. On Sept. 19, 2021, Bernius “began physically fighting with” O’Bryan, which lead to O’Bryan producing a pistol and shooting Bernius.

On that day, the motion said, O’Bryan was still recuperating from injuries he sustained in an armed robbery where he suffered a gunshot to the stomach.

“Due to the serious and potentially fatal nature of his injuries, O’Bryan believed that Bernius’ attack on him could kill him. Fearing for his life, O’Bryan employed defensive force,” said the motion.

Tulsa County District Judge Michelle Keely said testimony from two sworn witnesses at the hearing was inconsistent, and she couldn’t find “by a preponderance of the evidence” that O’Bryan was attacked. O’Bryan was arraigned and a jury trial was set for April.

Two days before the shooting, Bernius had requested a restraining order against O’Bryan, saying that he feared for his safety after alleged incidents that occurred at the home. Bernius had been trying to evict O’Bryan from his home. A judge denied Bernius’ request, saying it didn’t meet the legal requirements.

Tragedy surrounding the murder drew much attention in Oklahoma and eventually led to a change in state law. Bernius’ mother, Maureen Bucherre, circulated a petition requesting laws surrounding protective orders be reviewed. The petition received more than 2,500 signatures and was presented to state lawmakers.

A bill was introduced by Oklahoma Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow) that revamped the state’s domestic violence laws to allow a broader range of domestic violence victims to obtain protective orders when they feel they’re in danger.

After the House and Senate passed the measure, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed it into law in May.

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