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Thread: William Henry Bell, Jr. - South Carolina

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    William Henry Bell, Jr. - South Carolina

    Summary of Offense:

    Convicted of the 1988 murder of an Anderson County school principal, Dennis Hepler, on his way home from work.

    Bell was sentenced to death on March 20, 1989.

  2. #2
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On June 12, 2003, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied Bell's habeas petition.

    On January 20, 2004, the US Supreme Court denied Bell's certiorari petition.

  3. #3
    If the Fourth Circuit denied this guy's appeals back in 2003, why is he still on death row?

  4. #4
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    I've read somewhere that he is pursuing a mental retardation claim. I'll post the source if I remember it.

  5. #5
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    SC's Death Row may lead to lengthy wait for criminals

    South Carolina's Death Row houses 51 inmates and the average wait for a criminal's execution is 12 years, though one Upstate man has spent nearly 25 years there.

    South Carolina's Attorney General Alan Wilson understands the emotional toll the wait can take on victims' families.

    "I'm very empathetic to people, especially to victims who have to basically go through this process over and over," Wilson said.

    William Bell Jr., 44, has been on Death Row since 1989. He was convicted of robbing and murdering Dennis Ray Hepler. Hepler had been working late at an elementary school in the city of Anderson, and had just been named the school's principal.

    Investigators quickly tied Bell and three other men to the crime, two were sentenced to death and the other two were given lengthy prison sentences. A former detective for the city of Anderson, Layton Creamer, doesn't understand why it's taken so long to execute Bell.

    "In a case like this, where there is no doubt that these are the ones who did it," Creamer said. "We recovered his wallet, fingerprints, detailed confessions."

    Attorney General Wilson said the judicial process is a necessary evil, after sentencing there is a direct appeal automatically happens, then a series of seven appeals are possible through both state, federal and the Supreme Court.

    William Bell is currently undergoing a mental evaluation, although there were no mental problems determined at the time of the crime, his condition may have changed after 25 years on Death Row.

    If William Bell is found mentally incompetent, the law will not allow him to be executed.
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  7. #7
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    Nov 2015
    New Jersey
    Man convicted of principal's murder in 1988 could be paroled, solicitor says

    ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. — One of the men convicted for the 1988 murder of an Upstate elementary school principal could soon be eligible for parole after a judge ruled William Bell didn't have the mental capacity to receive a death sentence for the crime, 10th Circuit Solicitor David Wagner said.

    Dennis Hepler was gunned down during a robbery on the steps of West Franklin Street Elementary, where Hepler worked as principal.

    The school has since been closed, and it is now known as the Westside Community Center.

    The South Carolina Attorney General's Office doesn't plan to appeal the judge's decision and Bell will have a resentencing hearing soon, which will likely result in his sentence being commuted to life in prison, Wagner said.

    Since Bell was convicted in the 1980s, he'll likely be eligible for parole, but it will be up to a parole board to make that decision, Wagner said.

    The date of the resentencing hearing has not yet been released, but Bell has already been transferred to the Anderson County Detention Center to await his court date.

    Kevin Young also received the death penalty for this case and was executed by lethal injection in 2000.
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  8. #8
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    South Carolina Man Resentenced to Life in 1988 Murder

    By Associated Press

    ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man originally facing the death penalty for a 1988 murder has been resentenced to life.

    The Office of Solicitor in Anderson and Oconee counties said in a news release that a resentencing hearing was held on Wednesday for William Henry Bell Jr., who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of elementary school principal Dennis Hepler.

    Bell faced death or life imprisonment, but he was found to be intellectually disabled under criteria set by a U.S. Supreme Court decision which held that intellectually disabled persons may not be sentenced to death.

    The South Carolina Attorney General's Office sought to have the court alter or amend the finding, but their request was denied in April, and the attorney general declined further appeals.
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