Eureka man convicted of manslaughter in 2018 skateboard attack | Lost Coast Outpost
On May 5, 2021, a Humboldt County jury concluded Jason ryan barnes, 48, of Eureka, guilty of one count of manslaughter for the homicide of Bernhard “Ben” Bertain and two counts of assault with a lethal weapon. The jury also held true the special allegations that Mr. Barnes personally caused serious bodily harm or death and personally used a lethal weapon.
Barnes had been charged with second degree murder. Prior to jury deliberations, Judge Timothy Canning acquitted Mr. Barnes of this charge and the lesser included the charge of manslaughter. Thus, the jurors returned guilty verdicts on the most serious charges they were authorized to consider.
The case arose out of an incident at the Burre Center laundromat in Eureka on December 22, 2018. A laundromat worker intervened when she saw and heard the accused yelling at a woman in the parking lot asking to be dropped off alone. After the laundry worker moved between Barnes and the woman, Mr. Bertain came from his parked car to stand with the laundry worker. At this point, the Respondent threw a skateboard at both the employee and Mr. Bertain; -The employee evaded the attack but the skateboard hit Mr. Bertain. The defendant then hit Mr. Bertain with the skateboard two more times.
Mr Bertain refused to receive medical attention immediately after the incident, but later told friends and family that he felt his ribs were broken when he was struck by the skateboard. Mr. Bertain called 911 in distress three days later, but could not communicate when paramedics arrived. Mr. Bertain died on a flight to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa. An autopsy by Napa County medical examiner Joseph Cohen determined that Mr Bertain’s spleen had ruptured due to an expanding hematoma caused by blunt trauma to the torso.
Inspector Corrie Watson of the Eureka Police Department (EPD) led the investigation into Mr. Bertain’s death. Evidence officers and technicians from the EPD and the Arcata Police Department also assisted in the investigation.
Assistant District Attorney Roger C. Rees pursued the case with the assistance of District Attorney Investigator Marvin Kirkpatrick and victim advocates Marybeth Bian and Caitlyn LaHaie. Deputy Public Defender David Celli represented Mr Barnes.
Mr Barnes’ conviction is scheduled for June 14, 2021. He faces a maximum of 8 years in state prison. Mr. Barnes’ offenses qualify as violent felonies under the California Three Strike Act, and he will be required to serve at least 85% of any sentence imposed.