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Posted January 16, 2001 | Leave a comment
Selection of jury slated in Bell case
By Richard Nash - Daily Staff Writer
Jury selection in the trial of Edward N. Bell, a Jamaican immigrant charged with murdering Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook, will begin today in Winchester Circuit Court.
City police arrested Bell and charged him with Timbrook’s murder on Oct. 30, 1999, just eight hours after officers discovered Timbrook’s body in an alley between 301 and 303 E. Piccadilly St.
Bell, 36, is charged with capital murder, possessing a firearm while carrying cocaine, possessing cocaine and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Bell’s trial, which court authorities originally scheduled to begin in the spring of 2000, is expected to be long and complex.
More than 14 months of investigative work and court proceedings have followed in the wake of Timbrook’s shooting.
Bell’s case file, which occupies its own file drawer in the Winchester Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, is thousands of pages long.
Included in the file are subpoenas for more than 100 witnesses that attorneys have called to testify in the trial.
City Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul H. Thomson said in court earlier this month that his office has filed at least 85 subpoenas for witnesses in the case. Defense attorneys Mark B. Williams and Jud A. Fischel, both of Warrenton, have filed at least 30 subpoenas, Thomson said.
Fischel, Williams and Thomson all declined to comment.
“We’re ready to go,” Williams said. “That’s about all I can tell you.”
Winchester Police Chief Gary W. Reynolds also declined to comment.
“That case is still under active investigation,” he said. “I can’t comment on any aspect of that case.”
Timbrook, who is the first Winchester police officer in more than 50 years to be killed in the line of duty, was fatally shot in the head just before midnight on Oct. 29, 1999 after chasing a suspected probation violator into an East Piccadilly Street alley.
Reynolds told reporters after the shooting that Timbrook advised police dispatchers that he was starting the chase at 11:49 p.m.
Dispatchers received reports of gunshots in the vicinity of the chase at 11:51 p.m., he said.
Winchester Probation and Parole Officer Brad Tripplet, who was on patrol with Timbrook the night of the shooting, discovered Timbrook’s body minutes later beneath a set of stairs in the alley, Reynolds said.
Authorities rushed Timbrook to the Winchester Medical Center Emergency Room, where doctors pronounced him dead about 12:20 a.m., he said.
Ron Barrow, who lives with his wife in a second-floor apartment over the alley where Tripplet found Timbrook’s body, said the night of the shooting that he heard the shot and saw Timbrook’s body in the alley.
“It sounded like a cannon,” he said. “I looked around back and seen the officer down. He was bleeding in the chest.”
State, federal and local police officers evacuated Piccadilly Street immediately following the shooting and began an intensive house-to-house search for suspects.
Police, who used dogs, metal detectors and a helicopter on loan from Fairfax County to conduct the search, said officers found Bell about 8 a.m. on Oct. 30 in the basement of a house at 305 E. Piccadilly St.
Police charged Bell with Timbrook’s murder several hours later after finding a gun beneath a pile of brick and debris under the back porch of the Piccadilly Street house, they said.
Later forensic reports have linked Bell to the gun, but Bell’s attorneys have disputed the findings of those reports.
Police also have said they discovered several small bags of cocaine near Timbrook’s body.
Police and prosecution authorities have said Bell has an extensive criminal record, including charges of brandishing a gun in Martinsburg, W.Va., and unlawful wounding and destruction of property in his native Jamaica.
The U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization was working to deport Bell at the time of his arrest because of a 1997 conviction in Winchester for carrying a concealed weapon and ties to the illegal drug trade.
Witnesses in the case against Bell have said he often threatened to kill Timbrook, who was the arresting officer in the Winchester gun case.
Bell, who has denied any connection to Timbrook’s murder, came to the United States in 1997 as a legal alien and had filed for U.S. citizenship before his arrest for Timbrook’s murder. Bell has told court officials that he is the father of three children in Winchester, one child in West Virginia and one child in Jamaica.
A decorated officer and member of the city’s Special Enforcement Team, Timbrook joined the Winchester Police Department in 1991 and earned the rank of sergeant in 1998.
Timbrook worked as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education teacher in city schools and was a member of the city Special Weapons and Enforcement Team.
Timbrook’s wife, Kelly Lee Wisecarver Timbrook, gave birth to the couple’s first and only child, Ricky Lee Timbrook III, less than two months after her husband’s murder.
Jury selection in Bell’s trial will begin at 9 a.m. today.
Presiding Judge Dennis L. Hupp has said he and attorneys for the defense and prosecution will interview about 100 perspective jurors.
Hupp has made arrangements also to move Bell’s trial to Staunton in the event that the proceedings Tuesday fail to result in the appointment of an impartial jury.
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