Posted January 20, 2001 | comments Leave a comment

Witnesses tie Bell to Timbrook

By Richard Nash - Daily Staff Writer

Witnesses in the trial of accused Winchester cop killer Edward N. Bell gave nearly eight hours of testimony Friday as prosecutors attempted to piece together the sequence of events that led up to and followed the Oct. 29, 1999, shooting death of city Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook.

Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul H. Thomson called 18 witnesses to the stand in the trial’s second day, including city police officers and inmates of several area jails.

Many of the first witnesses to take the stand were convicted felons, who testified that Bell had sold them crack cocaine and often publicly threatened Timbrook’s life.

“[Bell] said he didn’t like [Timbrook] and would like to see him dead,” said Marlene Combs, 20, of Frederick County. She accompanied Bell and her former boyfriend, Christopher S. Plummer, on several gambling trips to Charles Town, W.Va., in spring 1999.

Combs said that Bell told her he would shoot Timbrook in the head because the officer, who arrested Bell in 1997 on a misdemeanor gun charge, wore a bulletproof vest.

“[Bell] said that if he ever came face-to-face with [Timbrook] he would kill him,” she said.

Plummer testified later that Bell had mentioned Timbrook and another city police officer while singing along to music by rap artist Tupac Shakur. The music featured the sound of gunfire, he said.

Hagerstown (Md.) Regional Jail inmate Timothy W. Berry testified that he bought crack from Bell nearly every day in the summer of 1999.

Bell threatened to kill Timbrook one day that summer when the officer drove by his house during a routine drug deal, he said.

“Mr. Timbrook drove by all the time,” he said. “He knew what I did and he knew what Eddie [Bell] did. Eddie said, ‘Somebody needs to bust a cap in his ass.’”

Many of the witnesses Friday delivered testimony that connects Bell to evidence the prosecution has linked to Timbrook’s death, including a purple Chevrolet automobile, several articles of black clothing, and a pearl-handled .38-caliber revolver that police have identified as the gun that killed Timbrook.

Justin W. Jones, a 20-year-old city resident, testified that Bell attempted to sell him the revolver and three hollow-point bullets just hours before the shooting.

Bell made the offer while standing on Lincoln Avenue, just blocks from the site where Timbrook died, he said.

Bell defense attorneys Jud A. Fischel and Mark B. Williams questioned the testimony of many of the prosecution’s witnesses on grounds that they are admitted felons and known liars.

Williams presented evidence that authorities gave at least one witness, 23-year-old felon and admitted crack user and drug dealer Gerrard Wiley, immunity from prosecution on several criminal offenses in exchange for his testimony against Bell.

Wiley, whose apartment at 365 Woodstock Lane was the center of a reputed drug ring, said he had seen Bell carry a gun and often bought crack from the Jamaican immigrant.

“I’d buy it and then sell it,” he said.

Winchester Probation and Parole Officer Brad Triplett testified that he and Timbrook were attempting to arrest Wiley for an alleged parole violation on the night of the shooting.

Triplett was one of several law enforcement officers to testify about Timbrook’s murder and the immediate aftermath.

City Police Officer Robert L. Bower testified that he arrived in the Piccadilly Street alley where Timbrook died only seconds before the shooting.

Although Bower saw the unidentified shooter, he could not see his face or positively identify him, he said.

“I heard the shot and I saw Officer Timbrook rise up,” he said. “I saw his head go back. He stood straight up and then fell back.”

Bower’s partner that night testified that he froze for several moments when he found Timbrook’s body in the alley.

“After I saw him, I stood there,” he said. “I couldn’t say anything. I was awestruck. I didn’t know what to do.”

Bell’s attorneys questioned the law enforcement officers extensively on cross-examination, calling attention to apparent discrepancies between statements they made in court and others they made just hours after the shooting.

Fischel pointed out that transcripts of Timbrook’s radio dispatches during the chase contain no mention of Bell, even though Timbrook knew the alleged killer by sight.

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. He has pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

If convicted, Bell will receive a sentence of death by execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The trial will continue Monday at 9 a.m. in Winchester Circuit Court.

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