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    1. #1

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      Frederick Bell - Mississippi


      Robert C. “Bert” Bell




      Facts of the Crime:

      On May 6, 1991, Robert C. “Bert” Bell was working as the store clerk at Sparks Stop-and-Go in Grenada County. That day Frederick Bell accompanied by Anthony Joe Doss, Robert Kennedy James, and Frank Coffey purchased beer and potato chips from Bert. The two Bells are not related. The four exited the store, sat at a nearby picnic table and talked. Planning to go to Memphis, Bell said that he needed money. Bell announced that he was going to rob the store and showed the group a .22 caliber pistol. Doss also had in his possession a gun, which turned out to be inoperable. Refusing to take part, James and Coffey departed the premises as the other two went back into the store.

      Minutes later, James and Coffey heard hollering accompanied by gunshots. When Bell and Doss caught up with the other two, they showed them items they had taken from the store, including a money bag, .38 caliber pistol and a box of bullets. Because he did not want any witnesses, Bell then threatened to kill James. Coffey and Doss stepped in to prevent this. Both James and Coffey testified that Bell said he shot Bert. Later that day, Bernard Gladney drove Bell, Doss, and Coffey to Memphis. On the way, Bell again stated that he wanted to kill James to prevent him from telling anyone about the murder.

      Eventually, Bell was arrested in Memphis on another crime. Two guns were found in the house where he was arrested, a third was found in Gladney’s vehicle. Leland H. Jones, III, represented Bell during both the trial and the direct appeal. During the trial, there was no direct testimony regarding what actually occurred inside the store. Bell maintained that he was in Memphis the day of the murder. However, there were no witnesses to corroborate his alibi. Both James’s sister and Coffey’s girlfriend testified that they saw Bell with Coffey, Doss and James the day of the murder. The store owner, James Shelby Sparks, testified that a .38 caliber pistol (which was later recovered during Bell’s arrest), a box of shells, and a money bag were taken from the store during the robbery. An autopsy revealed that Bert was shot several times. Ballistics tests showed that Bert was shot with the .38 and a smaller caliber gun, likely a .22 caliber.

    2. #2

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      July 20, 2009

      Death row inmate seeks new trial; blames lawyer

      Death row inmate Frederick Bell argues in court documents for a new trial on the grounds that his attorney could have done a better job of investigating his alleged alibi.

      The attorney general's office says it wouldn't have mattered because the evidence was overwhelming against Bell.

      The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case today in Houston, Texas.

      A federal judge in Mississippi in 2008 granted Bell, now 37, a certificate of appealability on the issue of ineffective counsel.

      A certificate of appealability is similar to a post-conviction petition, in which an inmate argues he has found new evidence or a possible constitutional issue - that could persuade a court to order - a new trial.

      Bell was convicted in 1993 in Grenada County for killing a grocery store clerk. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in 1998.

      The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal in 1999.

      Bell and Anthony Doss, who is also on death row, were convicted for the 1991 killing of grocery store clerk Bert Bell.

      The Bells were not related.

      Bert Bell was killed during the armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop.

      In 2004, the Mississippi Supreme Court rejected Frederick Bell's post conviction claim that his attorney didn't do a good job.

      The justices said Bell failed to show that anything his attorney did hindered his defense or how the verdict might have turned out differently.

      Bell then filed appeals in federal court which lead up to the 5th Circuit hearing.

      In court documents, Bell claims he was in Memphis when the killing occurred and told his trial attorney so.

      Bell said that claim was supported by testimony from Bernard Gladney, who, according to court documents, testified that he had driven Bell to Memphis.

      That testimony came in an extradition hearing that returned Bell to Mississippi to face capital murder charges.

      Bell alleges his lawyer never contacted Gladney even though he knew of Gladney's testimony.

      The attorney general's office counters that the decision not to call Gladney was trial strategy. The attorney general's office said Gladney frequently contradicted himself about whether he drove Bell and then there was Gladney's credibility as a convicted murderer.

      "Gladney would have been a witness with no credibility," the attorney general's office said in its brief. "Any decision to leave Gladney aside was clearly an exercise of not merely reasonable but sane trial strategy."

      Bell argues that it is not just Gladney's testimony but another nine affidavits from people who would have supported his alibi had they been contacted by Bell's trial attorney.

      The attorney general's office said the nine affidavits were presented 15 years after the slaying and come from close relatives of Bell.

      http://www.clarionledger.com/article...-blames-lawyer

    3. #3

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      On September 28, 2009, Bell was denied a Certificate of Appealability by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit..

      Opinion is here:

      http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions...0031.0.wpd.pdf

    4. #4

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      September 28, 2009

      A federal appeals court panel has denied a new trial for death row inmate Frederick Bell, who had claimed his attorney should have done a better job of investigating his alleged alibi.

      Prosecutors had argued the evidence was overwhelming against Bell.

      A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case in July. On Monday, the panel ruled against Bell on the issues of ineffective assistance of counsel.

      A federal judge in Mississippi in 2008 ruled against Bell, now 37, but allowed him to take his arguments to the 5th Circuit.

      Bell was convicted in 1993 in Grenada County for killing a grocery store clerk. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in 1998. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal in 1999.

      Bell and Anthony Doss, who is also on death row, were convicted for the 1991 killing of grocery store clerk Bert Bell. The Bells were not related. Bert Bell was killed during the armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop.

      In 2004, the Mississippi court rejected Frederick Bell's post conviction claim that his attorney didn't do a good job. The justices said Bell failed to show that anything his attorney did hindered his defense or how the verdict might have turned out differently.

      In court documents, Bell claimed he was in Tennessee when the killing occurred and that he told his trial attorney so. Bell said the claim was supported by testimony from Bernard Gladney, who, according to court documents, testified that he had driven Bell to Memphis.

      That testimony came in an extradition hearing which resulted in Bell returning to Mississippi to face capital murder charges.

      Bell alleges his lawyer never contacted Gladney even though he knew of Gladney's testimony. Bell said there were another nine affidavits from people who would have supported his alibi had they been contacted by his attorney.

      Prosecutors argued the decision not to call Gladney was trial strategy. They said Gladney frequently contradicted himself about whether he drove Bell and then there was Gladney's credibility as a convicted murderer.

      Prosecutors said the nine affidavits were presented 15 years after the slaying and came from close relatives of Bell.

      The 5th Circuit panel said Monday that Bell did not raise the alibi issue in the Mississippi courts and did not introduce witness statements to support the alibi claim. Therefore, the panel said Bell could not argue the issue in the federal courts.

      "In the state courts, he never mentioned those witnesses or their likely testimony and so deprived those courts of any opportunity to consider them. Bell could not have established prejudice resulting from either failure to investigate or failure to present alibi witnesses without bringing live testimony from those witnesses," the 5th Circuit panel said.

      http://www.clarionledger.com/article...-appeal-denied

    5. #5

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      On April 30, 2010, Bell's application for an expanded Certificate of Appealability was denied by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:

      Opinion is here:

      http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions...0031.0.wpd.pdf

    6. #6

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      June 1, 2010

      A death row inmate from Grenada County could run out of appeals soon and be executed as early as July, according to the state Attorney General.

      Frederick Bell, 38, was sentenced to death on Jan. 27, 1993, for the murder of convenience store clerk Robert “Bert” Bell at Sparks Stop-and-Go in Gore Springs in 1991. The two are not related.

      If Bell’s rehearing petition before the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is denied, it will be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide his fate.

      If the court declines, the state will immediately ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to set an execution date, according to Attorney General Jim Hood.

      When asked, members of Bert Bell’s family declined to be interviewed.

      With two executions on consecutive days just over a week ago, 2010 could be the busiest year for the Mississippi death penalty since 1961 when five inmates were put to death.

      According to Hood, the executions show evidence of the U.S. Supreme Courts 2008 decision in the Kentucky case Baze v. Rees, that upholds lethal injection procedures that paved the way for increased execution in several states.

      Grenada County has two more inmates, Anthony Doss and Terry Pitchford, on death row going through the appeals process.

      Doss was 18 when he was also convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Bert Bell.

      Doss, 37, filed for an application for leave to file a motion to vacate judgment in sentencing in 2004 in connection with the case.

      In 2006, he tried for a sentence reduction based on mental handicap, but as of yet, no decision has been handed down.

      In the Terry Pitchford case, the Mississippi Supreme Court heard arguments in February to see if Pitchford, 24, deserved a new trial based on racial discrimination by the prosecution in picking the jury. No decision has been made.

      Under a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Batson v. Kentucky, lawyers are not allowed to exclude people from a jury because of their race.

      Pitchford, who was 18 when he was convicted in 2006, was put on death row for capital murder in the 2004 shooting death of Crossroads Grocery store owner, Ruben Britt, 67. Pitchford is the youngest inmate on death row.

      http://www.eclassifiedsnetwork.com/v...&MemberID=1218

    7. #7

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      July 23, 2010

      Man, 38, next up on death row----Barring successful appeal, Frederick Bell would be state's 4th inmate executed this year

      Death row inmate Frederick Bell has until Aug. 26 to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming the 4th inmate executed in Mississippi this year.

      The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 28 denied Bell's petition for a rehearing.

      That puts the 38-year-old next in line to be executed.

      Several other death row inmates have appeals before the 5th Circuit, but it's unknown when the court will issue a decision in any of the cases, state attorney general spokeswoman Jan Schaefer said Thursday.

      "We plan to file his writ of certiorari (appeal) with the U.S. Supreme Court in the next 2 or 3 weeks," said Bell's attorney, Kenneth Coghlan of Oxford.

      Once Bell's appeal is filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the state attorney general's office will respond to the court on why his appeal petition should be denied.

      If the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to consider Bell's appeal, the state then can ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to set an execution date.

      The state Supreme Court last summer upheld Bell's 1993 conviction for killing a Grenada County grocery store clerk.

      When a jury sentences an inmate to death, the trial judge sets an execution date to take place within months. But with automatic appeals in death penalty cases, it can be a decade or longer before a death sentence is carried out.

      Bell and co-defendant Anthony Joe Doss were convicted of killing Bert Bell, no relation, on May 6, 1991, during an armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop. Both were sentenced to death.

      At trial, Doss said he never actually shot Bell but admitted he was armed when he participated in the robbery and the resulting murder. He said Frederick Bell, his accomplice, was the triggerman, according to court records.

      Prosecutors said early that afternoon that Frederick Bell, Doss, Robert Kennedy James and Frank Coffey left Coffey's house for the short journey up to Sparks Stop-N-Shop, a small grocery store on Cadaretta Road in rural Grenada County.

      Testimony showed the 4 entered the store and purchased some chips and beer from Bert Bell. They went outside, sat on a picnic table, drank the beer and ate the chips. Frederick Bell talked of going to Memphis and said he needed some money. As they talked, he announced he was going to rob the store and showed the group a .22-caliber pistol. Doss also had a gun, but, apparently, it would not fire.

      James and Coffey testified they refused to take part in the robbery and left as Bell and Doss went into the store. A minute or so later, James and Coffey said they heard gunshots and hollering.

      When Frederick Bell and Doss caught up with them, they showed them a .38-caliber pistol, which they had taken from the store along with a box of bullets and a money bag. At this point, Bell threatened to kill James because he did not want any witnesses. Coffey and Doss stepped in to prevent this. Both James and Coffey testified Bell said he shot the clerk.

      Frederick Bell maintained at trial and in statements to investigators that he was in Memphis on the day Bert Bell was killed. But court records show there were no corroborating witnesses to Bell's alibi, and that James' sister and Coffey's girlfriend testified they saw Bell with the rest of the men in Grenada on the day of the shooting.

      With Joseph Daniel Burns' execution Wednesday, there are now 59 inmates on death row. The oldest is 64-year-old Richard Jordan. The youngest is 24-year-old Terry Pitchford.

      (source: Clarion Ledger)

    8. #8
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      Hood to seek execution date for death row inmate

      Attorney General Jim Hood said his office will file a petition Monday with the Mississippi Supreme Court asking for a Dec. 29 execution dated for death row inmate Frederick Bell.

      The U.S. Supreme Court earlier Monday declined, without comment, to hear an appeal from Bell.

      Hood has earlier said Bell was close to exhausting all appeals of his 1993 capital murder conviction.

      Bell and Anthony Joe Doss were convicted of killing Bert Bell, no relation, on May 6, 1991, during an armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop in Grenada County.

      Doss also was sentenced to death.

      (source: Associated Press)

    9. #9
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      Top court denies death row appeal

      The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Mississippi death row inmate Frederick Bell of Bruce, possibly setting up his execution by the end of the year.

      The justices issued the order without comment Monday.

      Bell and co-defendant Anthony Doss were convicted in 1993 of killing Robert "Bert" Bell during an armed robbery at Sparks Stop-N-Go on Cadaretta Road in Gore Springs on May 6, 1991. The 2 Bells are not related.

      Both Frederick Bell and Doss were sentenced to death.

      Last summer, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Bell's conviction.

      According to Attorney General Jim Hood, his office has filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to set an execution date of Dec. 29. If executed, Bell will be the fourth Mississippi inmate executed this year.

      Frederick Bell, now 38, filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution after his petition for a rehearing was denied by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May.

      When asked, members of Bert Bell’s family chose to not comment about the case or the pending execution.

      During the 2009 trial, Doss said he was present and armed when Bert Bell was murdered. He said Frederick Bell was the one who pulled the trigger, according to court records.

      Prosecutors said that Frederick Bell, Doss and 2 other men, Robert Kennedy James and Frank Coffey, left Coffey's house for the small grocery store that was located southeast of Gore Springs.

      According to testimony, the four entered the store and purchased beer and chips.

      While outside the store, Frederick Bell had talked about leaving for Memphis but did not have any money, according to court records.

      As they talked, Frederick Bell said he was going to rob the store and showed off a .22-caliber pistol. Doss also had a gun, but it was deemed inoperable, according to testimony.

      James and Coffey testified that they refused to take part in the robbery and left the other 2 men at the store. Within a few minutes, the two admitted to hearing gunshots and shouting.

      When Bell and Doss caught up with the 2, they showed off a .38-caliber pistol, a box of bullets and a money bag that were all stolen from the store, according to court records.

      Both men testified that Frederick Bell threatened to kill James because he did not want any witnesses. Coffey and Doss stepped in to stop that from happening, according to court records.

      According to testimony, James and Coffey testified that Frederick Bell admitted to shooting Bert Bell.

      Frederick Bell maintained his innocence at the trial by saying he was in Memphis on the day Bert Bell was shot, but court records show that there were no witnesses to the alibi.

      James' sister and Coffey's girlfriend testified that they saw Frederick Bell with the rest of the men in Grenada on the day of the shooting.

      With 2 back-to-back executions in May and 1 execution in July, 2010 is considered by some to be one of the busiest years for the Mississippi death penalty since 1961 when 5 inmates were put to death.

      (source: Grenada Star)

    10. #10
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      Miss. Supreme Court sets deadline for Bell to oppose execution date motion

      Mississippi death row inmate Frederick Bell has been given until Friday to respond to the state's motion for the setting of an execution date.

      Attorney General Jim Hood petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court this past week to set Bell's execution for Dec. 29.

      Hood's motion came after the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 29 declined to hear appeal from Bell.

      Bell, now 39, was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to death.

      Bell and Anthony Joe Doss were convicted of killing Bert Bell, no relation, on May 6, 1991, during an armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop in Grenada County.

      Doss also was sentenced to death.

      (source: Associated Press)

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