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Grand jury indicts man on first degree murder charges in resort killing

The trial moves forward as the grand jury indicts Cameron Moser in the murder of a woman last year at a Merrifield area resort.

Cameron Jay Moser
Cameron Jay Moser
Contributed / Crow Wing County Jail
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BRAINERD — The man accused of murdering a woman last fall at a Merrifield area resort was indicted Thursday, May 26, on two counts of felony first degree murder.

Meeting briefly through Zoom, 30-year-old Cameron Jay Moser only gave a thumbs-up when Judge Erik Askegaard made sure he could hear everything, letting his public defender Carly Vosacek speak on his behalf.

Moser, who was originally charged with felony second degree murder for the October 2021, shooting death of Bethany Anne Bernatsky at Cozy Bay Resort, was indicted Thursday on one charge of premeditated murder in the first degree, one charge of felony murder in the first degree and one charge of intentional murder in the second degree.

The first-degree charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and the second-degree murder charge carries a maximum of 40 years.

According to court documents, a Crow Wing County grand jury returned the indictments May 19.

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Vosacek said she discussed the charges with her client and they would be waiving their right to have the charges read and would not be requesting modifications to the terms of release.

Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan requested bail be raised to reflect the severity of the charges. He requested to double the amounts to $3 million for bond or bail with no conditions and $2 million bond or bail with conditions.

Vosacek argued her client had no intention to leave jail and Askegaard agreed, saying he saw no reason to raise the amounts, though he added he would make note of Ryan's request.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Moser, Crow Wing County sheriff’s deputies responded to a shooting complaint Oct. 7, 2021, at Cozy Bay Resort and after a 90-minute standoff, Moser surrendered an AR-style rifle and silver revolver and was arrested.

After Moser was taken into custody, members of the Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team found Bernatsky lying at the end of a hallway in a cabin at the resort with a large pool of blood under her head.

Bernatsky, 46, was a standout horse trainer and lakes area native who’d recently returned home to stay at the resort as she recovered from cancer treatments. Bernatsky died as a result of gunshot injuries and the manner of death was determined by a medical examiner to be homicide.

Members of Bernatsky’s family previously said they believe the incident was a matter of mistaken identity and Moser’s intended target was instead his ex-girlfriend, who they said shared a similar appearance with Bernatsky and whose parents previously owned the resort.

Moser remains in custody in the Crow Wing County Jail. His next court appearance is set for June 27.

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Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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