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Posted January 19, 2001 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Bell trial begins

By Richard Nash - Daily Staff Writer

Jury selection ended and witness testimony began Thursday in the case of accused cop killer Edward N. Bell, a Jamaican immigrant on trial in Winchester Circuit Court for the October 1999 shooting death of city Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook.

In his opening statement, Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul H. Thomson portrayed Bell as a dangerous criminal whose involvement with illegal guns and drugs led him into an adversarial relationship with Timbrook.

Thomson said the relationship came to a violent end shortly before midnight on Oct. 29, 1999, when Bell fatally shot Timbrook in the head at point blank range with a pearl-handled .38-revolver.

“This is not a case where a police officer is randomly stopping a defendant and that officer is killed on a whim,” Thomson said. “We will prove that the defendant knowingly and with premeditation shot and killed Sgt. Timbrook.”

Thomson said he will prove over the course of the trial that Bell killed Timbrook in an East Piccadilly Street alley in order to avoid an arrest that would have complicated his ongoing effort to gain United States citizenship.

That arrest, which would have marked the second time in two years that Timbrook caught Bell with an illegal firearm, could have resulted in the Jamaican’s forced deportation from the country, Thomson said.

“Eddie Bell had every motive in the world to prevent Sgt. Timbrook from catching him with that weapon,” he said.

Using an enlarged aerial photograph of the neighborhood where Bell allegedly shot Timbrook, Thomson gave the jury a detailed summary of the prosecution’s case.

Timbrook arrested Bell in 1997 on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, Thomson said.

Bell’s arrest and subsequent conviction on the gun charge led agents with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services to begin deportation proceedings that halted the progress of Bell’s bid for U.S. citizenship, he said.

Over the next two years, Timbrook repeatedly stopped Bell on the street and searched him for illegal guns and drugs, Thomson said.

Timbrook’s constant “harassment” angered Bell and led him to threaten Timbrook’s life publicly on numerous occasions, Thomson said.

Bell made good on his threats in October 1999 when Timbrook chased the Jamaican into an alley and attempted to arrest him just six days before he was scheduled to meet with a Falls Church immigration judge about his possible deportation, he said.

A litany of evidence, including forensic science and the testimony of nearly 100 witnesses, will prove the state’s case against Bell beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

Bell defense attorney Jud A. Fischel kept his opening statement brief.

“I have one very simple statement to make that is the cornerstone of our case and the reason we are here today,” he said. “Edward Nathaniel Bell did not shoot and kill Sgt. Rick Timbrook and we will show you that through the evidence.”

Fischel said that he and co-counsel Mark B. Williams may present no evidence of their own, but intend to highlight gaps in Thomson’s case that prove Bell did not kill Timbrook.

Although the defense attorneys agree with most of the facts of Thomson’s case, they believe his conclusion that Bell murdered Timbrook is wrong, he said.

An unknown person, who police investigators never apprehended, is guilty of Timbrook’s murder, Fischel said.

Bell’s arrest and imprisonment are the results of a “rush to judgment” on the part of the police, who have ignored evidence that could exonerate Bell in an effort to close the book on Timbrook’s murder, he said.

“Someone else did it,” he said, pointing to Bell. “Someone else, who did not have contact with the police. Someone else should be sitting in that chair.”

Bell, 36, is charged with capital murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm while possessing cocaine. If convicted, he will face a sentence of death by execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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