Murderer scheduled to die tonight for '99 police officer slaying, barring intervention
By Garren Shipley -- Daily Staff Writer
WINCHESTER -- The day before Edward N. Bell's scheduled execution, evidence of the impending event was hard to come by Wednesday.
Bell, a Jamaican national, was convicted in 2001 of the 1999 murder of Winchester police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook. Barring some extraordinary intervention, he will die today.
He is scheduled to be executed tonight by lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarrat, not far from the North Carolina line.
Bell continues to maintain his innocence.
Diplomats from the European Union have written to Kaine seeking clemency, and anti-death penalty activists have started petitions seeking a commutation.
Others will be handing out fliers at Metro stations in Virginia today, urging residents to call Kaine's office.
But few people on or near the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall on Wednesday said they'd heard of the case, or were at best superficially familiar with it.
"I have a hard time with executions, but I guess it's necessary if that's what courts have decided," said Sharon Boggs, of the Potomac Bead Co.
A Winchester Circuit Court jury and several appeals panels have spoken to Bell's guilt. But that's not to say she's comfortable with the idea.
"If I was the one pulling the switch, I'd have a hard time doing it," she said. "It's still a life."
Boggs was the exception on Wednesday. That could be because Winchester in 2009 is a much different place than it was in 1999.
An economic boom brought in thousands of new residents and scores of new businesses. Some neighborhoods that were once home to open-air drug markets have been cleaned up.
It could also be because people have much more pressing things on their mind, according to Andy Gyurisin, at Winchester Book Gallery.
Economic problems have people more concerned about whether or not they'll have a job next month, he said.
In his bookstore, "people are talking more about the economy, the stimulus package, things more on a national scale," he said.
"I don't know where we are or if people even realize that it's tomorrow."
Gyurisin himself said he hasn't been following the case much beyond the headlines.
"I know that [the execution has] been many years in the making," he said.
Bell's case may not be the buzz of the bookstore, but it does come up on occasion among the patrons of John B. Hayes Tobacconist in Winchester, just a block from where the shooting took place.
Patrons there said that, while they had all moved to the area since the shooting, they do have friends who were in Winchester in 1999 -- and many have doubts about Bell's guilt.
"I've heard cops say that he didn't do it," said Gary Gerrien, one of several men in the store smoking Wednesday afternoon "They've said another cop shot him."
Bell is scheduled to die at 9 p.m.
Contact Garren Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org