Posted January 24, 2001 | comments Leave a comment

State witnesses testify, prosecution rests

By Richard Nash -- Daily Staff Writer

The prosecution has rested its case in the capital murder trial of accused Winchester cop killer Edward N. Bell.

City Commonwealth's Attorney Paul H. Thomson said Tuesday afternoon that he has presented all evidence the state has to offer in its case against Bell and will allow Bell defense attorneys Jud A. Fischel and Mark B. Williams to begin presenting their case this morning.

Over the course of the trial, which began Thursday after a day-and-a-half of jury selection, Thomson and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc Abrams called more than 50 witnesses to testify against Bell.

A Jamaican immigrant, Bell faces several felony level charges in connection with the October 1999 shooting death of city Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook.

Witnesses in the case against Bell included state, local and federal law enforcement agents, inmates of several area correctional facilities, a number of Bell's former associates in Winchester and residents of the East Piccadilly Street neighborhood where Timbrook died.

Most of the testimony Tuesday centered around forensic evidence in the case.

Dr. Carolyn Revercomb, who conducted Timbrook's autopsy for the State Medical Examiner's Office in Fairfax, testified that Timbrook died from a gunshot wound above his right eye.

The bullet that killed the highly decorated officer broke apart on contact with his skull, causing a facial laceration below the eye and scattering fragments of metal and bone through his brain, she said.

"The cause of Mr. Timbrook's death is a gunshot wound to the face,"" she said.

Several of Timbrook's relatives, who have been in the courtroom throughout the trial, broke into tears and shielded their eyes as the prosecution presented close-up photos of Timbrook's face taken after the shooting.

The photos showed Timbrook covered in blood and splattered with black powder burns.

Eugene R. Harrison, an expert with Virginia's central laboratory in Richmond, testified that tests taken after Bell's Oct. 30, 1999 arrest showed trace evidence of gunshot residue on the murder suspect's hands.

Such evidence suggests that Bell may have fired or handled a firearm before his arrest, but the test revealed only a few particles of residue and is not conclusive, he said.

“There was one particle one each hand,” he said. “That would be a small amount. Particles are indicative not conclusive.”

Harrison said police could have transferred the residue to Bell's hands from their own while administering the test.

Lt. L.W. Millholland, who tested Bell's hands for residue shortly after his arrest, admitted on cross-examination early in the proceedings that he did not wash his own hands before administering the test or allow his test kit to warm up to room temperature as the standard instructions for the test require.

Case agent in the police department's Timbrook investigation, Millholland also was one of the first officers to question Bell after his arrest.

Thomson played jurors a recording of Millholland's Oct. 30 interview with Bell and questioned the investigator extensively about searches he conducted of Bell's 384 National Ave. residence.

Millholland said he found a great deal of gun paraphernalia in a Nov. 2, 1999 search of Bell's residence and in a purple 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier the defendant is known to have driven.

The paraphernalia included ammunition and holsters for various firearms, but no actual firearms, he said.

Gary C. Arntsen and Karen C. Ambrosey, of the State Medical Examiner's Office, continued the forensic testimony, addressing evidence surrounding a Smith and Wesson .38-Special revolver identified as the murder weapon in Timbrook's death.

Arntsen, a firearm and tool mark specialist, said he is certain that the bullet that killed Timbrook came from the revolver.

“I was able to detect that that particular bullet was fired from that firearm and no other firearm,” he said.

But Ambrosey, a DNA analysis expert, said extensive DNA testing failed to link Bell with the gun.

Ambrosey said also that bloodstains found on Bell's clothes on the morning of his arrest are consistent with the defendant's own blood and could not have come from Timbrook.

Also Tuesday, former CFW regional jail inmate Terry Johnson, a twice-convicted felon now in state prison, testified that Bell admitted while in jail that he killed Timbrook.

The prosecution's final witness, Johnson said Bell made the confession while the two were incarcerated in adjacent CFW cells.

"He told me he didnt mean to kill [Timbrook]," he said. "He told me the dude, Timbrook or whatever, was always messing with him. He was always out to get him for no apparent reason."

Bell, 36, is accused of murdering Timbrook, 32, shortly before midnight on Oct. 29, 1999 after the officer chased him into an alley off Piccadilly Street in Winchester.

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

The trial resumes today at 9 a.m.

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