Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Heather Spencer Case Update: After savagely beating Heather Spencer, why did JPD reduce the charges against George Bell, III?

One of the questions frequently asked about the Heather Spencer murder is why JPD reduced the charges against George Bell III after he savagely beat her in June, three months before he murdered her. In early June, Bell went to Spencer's house early in the morning and beat her head with a rubber mallet, while fracturing several bones. Ms. Spencer needed 57 staples in her head at UMC. The police reports are available online and list her injuries (kudos to the JFP for obtaining and publishing them. A flogging to The Clarion-Ledger for not doing the same), The reports appeared in a very well-written and thought provoking JFP story:

The police reports states she had 57 staples ( 3 rows), a finger splint, a spring wrap on her wrist, and that he tried to strangle her. Ms. Spencer also states in the report she had a fracture. The initial report was taken at the emergency room.

Since he used a rubber mallet, Mr. Bell was charged with Domestic Violence under Section 97-3-7 of the Mississippi Code. The charge is classified by JPD as Domestic Violence (Aggravated Assault), which is a felony.

It is at this point several questions about JPD's conduct are raised. The charge was reduced to Simple Domestic Violence, a misdemeanor, by Detective Daniels. This is the same Daniels who was assigned to be a bodyguard by Frank Melton for District Attorney-elect Robert Smith. This is also the same Daniels who is the investigating officer in the Elicia Hughes case ( Someone should look at the transcripts of the trial and read where Daniels interviewed Ms. Hughes. VERY interesting). He stated the reason was the assault was not life-threatening. Dear Officer Daniels: What if YOU were a small woman who was beaten repeatedly in the head with a rubber mallet, strangled, and had several bones fractured by a 230 lb man who can bench press 400 lbs? Would you think that is life-threatening?

The issue of whether the injuries were life-threatening should not have even been considered by Detective Daniels as Section 97-3-7 (2)of the Mississippi Code states: " A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he (a) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or (b) attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm.."

The statute does not say that an injury or attack has to be life-threatening for a successful proection of Aggravated Assault. It says there only has to be an attempt. The case law on this statute also says that the issue of whether the mallet was a deadly weapon was a question of fact for the jury, meaning NOT the police officer.

His stating that the attack was not life-threatening boggles the mind and makes one think this is more than an error in judgement. However, since that is not really an issue in the charge of Aggravated Assault, it is pretty clear that Mr. Bell attempted to cause serious bodily injury to Ms. Spencer. I don't know what type of training Mr. Daniels has received, but broken bones, severe lacerations, and repeated heavy blows to the head would be proof of an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to most people. One must really wonder what was going through Mr. Daniels' mind when he reduced the charges. It makes one think he is incompetent....or something else.

I am going to muddy the waters even more. Law enforcement personnel have informed me the reason the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge was it was the only charge JPD could pursue against Mr. Bell without Ms. Spencer's consent.

Under Section 99-3-7 (3) of the Mississippi Code (warrantless arrests): "Any law enforcement officer shall arrest a person with or without a warrant when he has probable cause to believe that the person has, within twenty-four (24) hours of such arrest, knowingly committed a misdemeanor which is an act of domestic violence...".

Since Ms. Spencer sought to drop the charges against Mr. Bell (which required her to go before a judge, she couldn't just drop the charges), the simple domestic violence was the only charge under the law that allowed the JPD to prosecute Mr. Bell without the consent of Ms. Spencer. See previous post,, for discussion of the warrant against Mr. Bell and why he was not arrested after Ms. Spencer filed charges against him.

Frankly, this explanation of why the charges were reduced is plausible and casts the JPD in a different light as to why the charges against Mr. Bell were reduced. Strong statements have been made in local publications and internet forums accusing the Mr. Bell's family of having strong political connections, the JPD of being incompetent or corrupt, and as well as other similar accusations. If the charges were reduced in order to keep the prosecution against Mr. Bell alive, then such an action by JPD is indeed commendable.

The JPD's failure to comment much on this case has opened the door to much speculation. Many people question the handling of this case and Shirlene's department has done a very poor job of communicating information to the public in regards to this tragedy. Some of the local media have barely covered this story. One hopes the reasons why some local media have not published the police reports is not because the JFP scooped them and they have a corporate policy against crediting the JFP. The murder of a bright, young woman who had so much to live for should trump any media turf battles.

However, the question still remains, why did Detective Daniels reduce the Aggravated Assault charge and state he was doing so because her injuries were not life-threatening? What exactly was going on with this case back in June?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can honestly tell you (and you can believe me or not) but when a very well known local reporter asked the JPD for a comment regarding Heather's case shortly after her death, he was told by the JPD officer that he would not be provided with a statement and that he was told to "make this go away." Sounds like the Bell's have a way of keeping mouth's closed and I hope they get everything they deserve and burn in hell.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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