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Posted May 10, 2008 | comments Leave a comment

Edward N. Bell’s long legal journey nears an end

Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook was murdered Oct. 29, 1999. Now, nearly a decade later, the man convicted of pulling the trigger is scheduled to be executed in a little under two months.


Oct. 29, 1999: Timbrook is shot and killed after pursuing Bell. The Jamaican national is later found hiding in the basement of a house on East Piccadilly Street, not far from where police recover the gun used to kill Timbrook.

Jan. 20, 2001: Bell goes on trial in Winchester Circuit Court after a long series of motions.

Jan 26, 2001: A jury of nine women and three men find Bell guilty of capital murder.

Jan 26, 2001: The same jury takes less than an hour to sentence Bell to death. The dearth of mitigation witnesses presented by the defense team will later become an major issue on appeal.

May 30, 2001: Winchester Circuit Court Judge Dennis L. Hupp accepts the jury’s death sentence.

June 28, 2001: Bell’s lawyers file their first notice of appeal in Circuit Court.

Aug. 27, 2001: Bell’s lawyers file their first appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court.

Jan. 29, 2002: Lawyers for Bell file their first series of briefs with the Virginia Supreme Court.

April 16, 2002: Justices of the Virginia Supreme Court hear oral arguments in Bell’s appeal.

June 7, 2002: The Virginia Supreme Court upholds Bell’s conviction and sentence.

Oct. 25, 2002: Bell’s lawyers ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Bell’s conviction.

Jan. 10, 2003: The nine justices decline to hear Bell’s appeal, sending the matter back to state courts.

March 14, 2003: Bell files a habeas corpus petition with the Virginia Supreme Court.

April 10, 2003: The high court returns Bell’s brief for being longer than 50 pages.

April 24, 2003: Bell’s legal team files a shorter appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court.

May 2003: The Virginia Supreme Court turns down Bell’s state-level habeas corpus appeal.

June 2004: Bell’s legal team files application for re-hearing at the Virginia Supreme Court.

November 2004: Petition for re-hearing is denied by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Dec. 7, 2004: Execution date is set for Jan. 7, 2005.

Dec. 23, 2004: U.S. District Court Judge James P. Jones issues a stay of execution while Bell pursues one final appeal.

Jan. 3, 2005: A new legal team files paperwork in federal court in Abingdon, putting the court on notice that Bell intends to prove actual innocence.

May 17, 2005: Bell files federal habeas corpus appeal, asking for a new sentencing on the grounds that his legal team at the time didn’t put on an adequate case in mitigation at sentencing.

June 16, 2005: Virginia attorney general’s office moves to dismiss the case.

July 6-7, 2005: Judge Jones castigates Bell’s initial legal team for their sentencing performance after a two-day hearing in Harrisonburg, but stuns the courtroom by not ordering a new sentencing. Jones also grants a certificate of appeal, allowing the case to move forward to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Sept. 18, 2006: Bell’s case is docketed at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond.

July 13, 2007: Bell’s pleadings and other documents filed in Richmond.

Oct. 30, 2007: A three-judge panel hears oral arguments from Bell’s attorneys and the Virginia attorney general’s office.

Jan. 4, 2008: The three-judge panel rules against Bell.

Jan. 18, 2008: Bell asks the appellate court to re-hear the case.

Jan. 29, 2008: The same three-judge panel denies Bell’s rehearing petition.

Feb. 5, 2008: Bell asks the court to “stay its mandate” so as to leave the stay of execution issued in 2004 in place while he appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Feb. 12, 2008: The three-judge panel denies Bell’s request.

Feb. 14, 2008: A Winchester Circuit Court judge sets Bell’s execution date for April 8.

March 25, 2008: Bell applies for a stay of execution to the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a request asking the high court to hear his final habeas corpus petition.

April 1, 2008: Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine pushes Bell’s execution date back to July 24 in order to hear the outcome of Baze v. Rees, a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the legality of some lethal injection protocols. Kaine promises a statewide moratorium until the decision is handed down.

April 16, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Kentucky’s lethal injection protocols 7-2. Kaine announces that executions in Virginia may resume.

April 28, 2008: The nine justices discuss Bell’s case in conference, but issue no orders either taking or declining to hear the case.

May 8, 2008: Justices once again conference on Bell’s case.


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