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Murder trial begins today for Bell

The murder trial of a Brookhaven man accused of shooting to death Aquarius Nelson in 2015 is starting this afternoon in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

Judge Michael Taylor will hear the state’s case against defendant Cordarryl Lamond Bell. The jury was selected earlier today.

Bell, 26, of 510 East Congress St., was arrested Jan. 29, 2016, by the U.S. Marshals Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force in Erie, Pennsylvania in connection with the fatal shooting of Nelson, 26, of 905 East Independence St., on Nov. 2, 2015. Multiple agencies investigating Bell and his connection to a string of crimes on and around Nov. 2 had been searching for him since the incidents.

Bell’s name was mentioned in relation to the shooting of Christopher Stringer, 39, at his residence on North Egypt Circle around 2:30 p.m. Nov. 2, police said. Stringer was wounded in the leg. Then-Police Chief Bobby Bell said when officers interviewed Stringer he stated he did not know who shot him.

Cordaryll Bell is also charged with aggravated assault in the shooting of Joshua Cole, according to court records.

Brookhaven police responded to a report of shots fired on East Independence Street around 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2. At 4:45 p.m., the BPD was dispatched to King’s Daughters Medical Center in reference to a person being shot. Nelson was pronounced dead at KDMC after being shot multiple times, according to police. The fatal shooting is alleged to have taken place on Walnut Street.

Bell’s trial date has been rescheduled several times, including one requested in 2017 so that attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba could campaign for mayor of Jackson. Another request came in June for a continuance after Lumumba won the election and asked to substitute counsel.

In September, Bell’s substitute counsel, Imhotep Alkebu-lan, requested a continuance because Bell’s trial interfered with another client’s trial in Georgia. He also said he had filed a motion for discovery and was waiting for the requested documents. The trial was set for Jan. 16, but Alkebu-lan requested a continuance Jan. 9.

According to a “Motion in Liminie” and “Memorandum of Law Precluding Evidence of Flight” filed by Alkebu-lan April 1, the defendant’s attorney claims that on Nov. 1, 2015, “Bell along with Marvin Montley and others was fired upon. Lattrick Williams is charged in a two-count indictment, filed Feb. 26, 2016, in Lincoln County Circuit Court with drive-by shooting and shooting into a motor vehicle.

“On Nov. 2, 2015, the home of the defendant’s grandparents, Moses and Cheryl Bell, was severely burned. The defendant housed his car at his grandparents’ home. His car was also set ablaze.

“On Nov. 3, 2015, the tow truck of the defendant’s stepfather, Billy Thomas, was set on fire.”

Alkebu-lan said the “overwhelming evidence clearly shows that the defendant acted in self defense. He left the area not as a circumstance of guilt or guilty knowledge but to avoid retaliation. This court, therefore, must rule that evidence of flight is inadmissible at trial.”

Cordarryl Lamond Bell