Man charged in death of Brighton man pleads not guilty to murder, other charges |

Man charged in death of Brighton man pleads not guilty to murder, other charges

Updated: June 10, 2021 07:45 PM
Created: June 10, 2021 09:47 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The man accused of killing prominent Brighton businessman and philanthropist Edward "Ted" Boucher was arraigned Thursday morning in front of Judge Judith Sinclair. 

Christopher Wernle, 48, is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. He is currently being held at the Monroe County Jail and has been in police custody since his arrest on May 20. 

Boucher’s body was found outside of Wernle’s home on Helendale Road in Irondequoit nearly a month ago. 

Wernle’s attorney, Clark Zimmerman, entered a plea of not guilty for his client Thursday. 

Irondequoit Police told News10NBC in May that Wernle and Boucher had known each other for several years before Boucher’s death. Zimmerman says differently. 

"I don't think they really had a relationship,” Zimmerman said. “I don't know where that came from. All I really know about Mr. Boucher is what's been reported in the press."

Last month, Special Prosecutor Thomas Reh said that Boucher was killed with a “blunt object.”

"Based upon the injuries, we do have confidence that it was a blunt object that was used, that ultimately lead to the death of Mr. Boucher," Reh said.

During his virtual arraignment, Wernle’s bail was set for $250,000 cash. Zimmerman had asked for it to be set significantly lower, at $75,000.

"I believe that the bail was high,” Zimmerman said. “Under the new bail reform law, [the judge] is supposed to take into consideration his financial background. He can't afford that, I don't believe, and I plan on making another application in the future."

In the discussion about the amount of Wernle’s bail, Zimmerman noted that his client has “strong ties to the community.” 

Emily Putnam: "Can you go into detail a little bit on what you mean by that? By "strong ties to the community?"

Clark Zimmerman: "He has a daughter who lives here, his ex-wife lives here, his mother lives here, he has a strong relationship with his step-father who's married to his mother. Obviously, he has a house here, and he grew up here."

Prosecutors Thomas Reh and Heather Heinze say that this is “a case with voluminous discovery” – meaning, a lot of evidence – yet Zimmerman believes there won’t be enough evidence to convict Wernle. 

"What I anticipate is a lack of evidence against Mr. Wernle," Zimmerman said. 

During Thursday’s arraignment, Reh also brought up Wernle's history of drug use, citing a drug charge from Virginia last year. 

"I don't think there's any dispute that CJ was a drug user,” Zimmerman said. “He had a long period of sobriety during which he obtained a masters in accounting, and for various reasons, he began using."

Wernle is due back in virtual court next month. 

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