Death Penalty Discussion
I always seemed to enjoy everything that hurt. The desire to inflict pain, that is all that is uppermost.

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Edward Nathaniel Bell - Virginia Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Scheduled Executions
Upcoming Executions
Start : Thursday 19 February 2009, 22:00
End : Thursday 19 February 2009, 22:00

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Edward Nathaniel Bell - Virginia Death Row - Execution set for February 19, 2008

Previos date of execution stayed July 24, 2008

Victims: Police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook

The Crime: Edward Nathaniel Bell was sentenced to death in Winchester, Va., in 2001, for the murder of Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook.
Edward Nathaniel Bell was charged in the shooting death of Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook, 32, from the Winchester police Department during a late evening police chase on Oct. 29, 1999. Police found Bell in the basement of a house near the shooting and was initially charged with burglary.[i] Evidence against Bell included the tight police perimeter around the crime scene on the night of the shooting.

Extensive media coverage, including flyers with pictures of the victim’s family outside the courthouse during trial did not restrain Judge Dennis L. Hupp from holding the criminal proceedings in Winchester Circuit Court in January 2001. During trial, prosecutors testified that Bell shot Timbrook because he had arrested him in 1997 for carrying a concealed weapon and Bell has feared that Timbrook would find a gun or drugs. Bell is a Jamaican national.

The prosecution introduced a witness who testified that Bell told him if he ever encountered Timbrook again, he would shoot him in the head since he knew police wore bullet-proof vests. A single shot to the head killed Timbrook.

Defense introduced evidence that showed a second individual was in the vicinity of the shooting at the same time and could have easily been the actual shooter. DNA from the gun came from at least three individuals and could not conclusively link Bell to the gun. Nonetheless, after deliberating for only three hours, an all-white jury of nine women and three men convicted Bell of capital murder and recommended that Bell be sentenced to death. At the formal sentencing hearing on May 30, 2001, Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp confirmed the jury's sentence. On June 7, 2002, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld Bell’s conviction.

Bell was to be executed on Jan. 7, 2005, but U.S. District Judge James Jones of Abingdon issued a stay of execution—pending Bell’s full appeals process in federal court. Since then, Winchester Commonwealth Attorney Alexander R. Iden sent a letter to trial court jurors informing them that they did not have to cooperate with investigators for the defense.

News: The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday stayed the July execution of a Virginia man convicted of killing a Winchester police officer after the killer's appeals lawyers pointed out that the jury heard no positive "mitigating" evidence about him before sentencing him to death.

The appeals lawyers for Edward N. Bell also noted that federal courts are split on the issue of how to analyze whether the trial lawyers' defense was reasonably effective. The Supreme Court often takes cases to resolve such splits and accepted Bell's appeal, without comment, for oral arguments in the fall.

"For some time, there has been an anomaly in the law," said James G. Connell III of Fairfax, one of Bell's appeals lawyers. "Federal courts are expected to defer to state courts, when [in fact] the state court didn't have all the facts."

Bell's lawyers argue that the facts did not all come out until the case reached federal court, because Bell's original lawyers did not present any evidence about his life during the sentencing phase of the case.

In most criminal cases in Virginia, if a jury finds a defendant guilty, the case enters a sentencing phase. Prosecutors give additional evidence, to show that the defendant either committed a particularly vile crime or is a future danger to society. Defense lawyers typically give evidence that their client has had a difficult life or is not an evil person.

In death penalty trials, mitigation evidence produced by the defense is often seen as the most important part of the trial by defense lawyers, who are battling to save their clients' lives.

But Bell's lawyers decided not to introduce any evidence, and the Virginia Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found that to be a reasonable decision.

In October 1999, Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook was working with a probation officer to track people on probation. Late one night, as Timbrook and the probation officer approached two men, one of the men took off running. Timbrook chased him through a neighborhood and was shot once in the face at close range. His wife was pregnant with their first child.

Bell was convicted in 2001 of capital murder. Jud Fischel and Mark Williams, Bell's lawyers for the trial, hired a psychologist to examine Bell but did not present the psychologist's findings or any other evidence in the sentencing phase.

A juror later testified, according to court records, that the jury was "looking for something mitigating, some reason not to sentence him to death, but . . . were given nothing by his lawyers."

After the Virginia Supreme Court rejected Bell's appeal, newly appointed appeals lawyers said they uncovered new evidence and persuaded U.S. District Judge James P. Jones to hold an evidentiary hearing.

Jones heard from Bell's family about an abusive childhood and his willingness to care for others. Jones found the trial lawyers' performance deficient, but not enough to reverse the conviction. The 4th Circuit agreed.

Bell's lawyers argued that other federal circuits have found that failure to introduce mitigating evidence can be prejudicial. They said the 4th Circuit has never found such failure to be harmful to the defendant.

David Clementson, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), said his office "will diligently represent the interests of the commonwealth before the Supreme Court to ensure that justice is done. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of police Sgt. Rick Timbrook."


Edward Nathaniel Bell was executed by injection tonight for the Oct. 29, 1999, slaying of a Winchester police officer.

Bell maintained his innocence to the end.

According to Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Jamaican national said: "To the Timbrook family, you definitely have the wrong person. The truth will come out one day. This here -- killing me -- there's no justice about it."

Traylor said it was difficult to understand him because of his accent.

Bell was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m., said Traylor. His was the 103rd execution in the state since the death penalty was allowed to resume in 1976.

Last Meal: Did not request a last meal and will be served the same food as the rest of the inmates.

Final Statement: To the Timbrook family, you definitely have the wrong person. The truth will come out one day. This here -- killing me -- there's no justice about it."

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