Circuit court ratifies jury’s maximum sentence of life, plus 3 years
Warrenton, VA – October 17, 2018. Judge Herman A. Whisenant, Jr. of the 20th Judicial Circuit, sitting in Fauquier County, Virginia, ratified an August 3rd, 2018 jury sentence today by imposing life in prison, plus 3 years (for a firearm charge) upon Bernard C. Duse, Jr.
Duse had been convicted last August in connection with the July 26, 2017 murder of CVS store manager Rex M. Olsen. Duse was convicted of lying in wait behind the CVS store on his day off and assassinating Mr. Olsen with two fatal gunshots as Mr. Olsen was depositing a bag of trash in a dumpster located at the rear of the store. Duse was the assistant store manager who had been pursuing a claim against CVS in which Mr. Olsen testified on behalf of the company.
During the trial, the Commonwealth proved that Duse believed that Mr. Olsen conspired with the district manager for CVS to defeat Duse’s application to become a store manager. An arbitrator had dismissed the claim 6 weeks prior to the killing gutting Duse’s hopes of a monetary recovery.
In today’s hearing Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Fisher made, the following argument:
“Good morning your honor. The defendant is here today to be sentenced for the crimes of first degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of the crime. The Commonwealth asks for the court to ratify the jury sentence which constituted the maximum for each offense. This was a 5 day trial and your honor and the jury heard a great deal of evidence about the case as well as about the concept of punishment. I won’t belabor the full quantum of evidence, but rather, I will simply argue that punishment can be distilled into three basic things that we know about this defendant. First, Mr. Duse planned and carried out a horrific and brutal assassination of his boss Rex Olsen. It was a murder imbued with a great deal of premeditation, lingering rage and malice. Second, there is no doubt that Mr. Olsen, the victim, was a wonderful, gregarious, friendly, well-liked man who was both totally innocent in this matter and totally unsuspecting of what was awaiting him as he left work that fateful evening. Finally, we know that this defendant’s purpose was to seek an irrational, paranoid revenge against, who he believed was one of the many “conspirators” from the “evil” CVS corporation who had plotted against him. Your honor, that list of conspirators, in his mind, was a long list of people. It was, in fact, a list, as we know from the whole record including the information going all the way back to the bail hearing included may people before, during and after the murder of Rex Olsen. His paranoid list of conspirators included IBM, Barnes & Noble, CVS, and after his conviction, it was expanded to the jury, the judge and the prosecutor, myself in the case. His final swan song of paranoia is detailed in the last paragraph of his pre-sentence report’s “offenders version” of offense which I will quote.
“These are Bernard Duse’s words, ‘The jury trial that I was required to attend was a complete travesty of justice. It showcased historical southern justice that used an all-white jury and a clearly racist judge to convict a black man who has never before been arrested or accused of criminal activity.’ In short, now we all join the list of conspirators who have plotted against him unfairly in life.
“In conclusion, the jury in this case rightly concluded that maximum sentences were appropriate because, at the core, this case involves the combination of two things. A horrible crime that took the life of an innocent person along with thinking that is so irrational and dangerous that this defendant obviously represents a continuing serious threat to society. Thus, the Commonwealth respectfully asks that this court ratify the jury sentence and impose the same.”
At the conclusion of today’s hearing, Judge Whisenant imposed the jury verdict in total and added 6 years of suspended time. The additional time is a statutory safeguard that courts may impose in case there is any change to the defendant’s status in the future such as parole or probation which is unlikely, but the additional time allows for supervision if such would occur in the future.
Additional local coverage here.