General Crime

* Edward Paul Byrns Arrested After DNA Hit Connected to Murder of Louis Fernandez

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A Bethel Island man was arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today in connection with the murder of a Brentwood man who was shot to death inside a bar in Oakley 17 years ago. Louis Fernandez, 55, was found dead inside Ikes Acme Club, which was located on Main Street at Third Street in Oakley on Jan. 14, 1993. Fernandez owned and operated the establishment, Contra Costa County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said. On Thursday, sheriff’s detectives arrested Edward Paul Byrns, 48, in connection with Fernandez’s murder, Lee said. Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said investigators had allegedly tied Byrns to the murder after his DNA was found on a beer bottle at the bar. Byrns has been charged with murder, robbery and the use of a firearm, Knox said. Because the murder was allegedly committed during a robbery, the district attorney’s office could also file a special circumstances charge that could make Byrns eligible for the death penalty or life without parole, Knox said. She said the district attorney’s office has not made the decision yet whether to file the special circumstances charge. Byrns was arraigned on the charges today, but did not enter a plea. Investigators had followed multiple leads at the time of the murder, but could not identify a suspect, Lee said. They recently began investigating the case again after receiving a $455,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice specifically to work on cold cases using DNA evidence, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Warne said. Warne said the sheriff’s office was not releasing further details about the case because it is still under investigation. Byrns is being held in county jail in Martinez on $1.24 million bail. He is scheduled to return to court in Pittsburg on May 6 to be assigned an attorney and enter a plea.

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