General Crime

* Edward Paul Byrns Pleads Not Guilty To Alleged 1993 Murder of Louis Fernandez in Oakley

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A Bethel Island man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he murdered a bar owner during a robbery in Oakley in 1993, prosecutors said today. Edward Paul Byrns, 48, pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and murder and denied an enhancement alleging that he used a gun to shoot 55-year-old Brentwood resident Louis Fernandez, Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said. Police found Fernandez dead inside Ikes Acme Club, a bar that was once 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. The sheriff’s office followed multiple leads at the time, but the case had gone cold until the department received a grant from the National Institute of Justice specifically to work on cold cases using DNA evidence, Lee said. When they reopened the investigation, they found that DNA collected from the scene allegedly matched Byrns’ DNA, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Warne said. Byrns was arrested April 22 and is being held in county jail on $1.24 million bail.

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