Michael Bernhard's attorney reveals he's mounting a "psychological" defense

By Chris Harris
January 08, 2016 12:30 PM
Will County Sheriff's Office

The parents of a 22-year-old Illinois man are pulling together $35,000 to bail him out, mere days after his arrest for allegedly attempting to murder his mother.

Jeff Tomczak, the attorney for Michael Bernhard, tells PEOPLE his client’s mother and father intend to get their son out of jail and into psychiatric counseling as soon as possible.

“In speaking to his parents, this is not the son they raised,” Tomczak says. “And all of the evidence outside of his parents indicates he’s a good kid.”

On Monday, Tomczak says the Manhattan Township man attacked his 51-year-old mother, Mary, as the two were preparing to travel to a nearby train station so the son could return to college.

Authorities allege Bernhard attacked his mother with a steak knife inside her sport utility vehicle.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Mary Bernhard sustained several cuts and lacerations in the driveway attack, and Michael was charged with attempted murder, domestic battery and aggravated battery charges.

Tomczak says Bernhard recently began taking a prescription medication called Contrave, which is used by people with high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol.

Tomczak claims the drug’s makers warn it can cause “serious side effects of suicidal thoughts or actions.”

“We are laser focused on a psychological defense here,” says Tomczak.