Cheryl Rheamount endured abuse at the hands of her boyfriend before she shot and killed him in self-defense with a handgun she had hidden under the seat of her car, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
After a charge of voluntary manslaughter was dropped, Rheamount pleaded guilty Wednesday to carrying a concealed weapon, a gross misdemeanor.
District Judge William Kephart ordered Rheamount to serve two years of probation, undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations, and have no contact with the family of Matthew Bernardi, 32, who died Nov. 20.
“This was a tragic event of self-defense,” Rheamount told the judge. “He kept repeating over and over that he was going to kill me. I did what I felt I had to do in order to save my own life.”
Clark County Detention Center records indicate that Rheamount, 36, was released Wednesday. She had been held at the jail since her arrest shortly after the shooting.
She showed up at her neighbor’s door the night of the shooting, covered in blood, and said she had just shot her boyfriend. Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Luzaich said DNA test results showed that much of the blood came from Rheamount.
The couple had been dating since May, and Rheamount told police that she endured physical and verbal abuse from Bernardi, although she never reported it to police.
Parked at their apartment complex on East Lake Mead Boulevard, Bernardi grabbed her by the back of the head and slammed her face into the dashboard, causing her nose to bleed.
Bernardi forced Rheamount into the back seat, and he drove west on Lake Mead Boulevard before turning onto Dolly Lane. When Bernardi turned around to face Rheamount, she retrieved the handgun and shot him once through the back of the driver’s seat.
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Cheryl Rheamount was originally charged with open murder. She is expected to be released from custody Wednesday after pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon.