Michael Ardis Bell

PhotoCroppedOn October 19, 1994, the Westside High School girls volleyball team played against the King Drew Medical High School girls’ volleyball team at the Rancho Cienega Recreation Center’s gymnasium, Los Angeles, California.

Darnell “Ricky” Pryor went to watch the game with his friends, Willie Bell, Kerry Bell. and Herron Freeman. Willie’s fiancee, Maura Sparks, played on the Westside High team.

Shortly after the second game started, a gang of young men attacked Ricky and his friends, and subsequently Ricky was shot. Paramedics took Ricky to UCLA. Medical Center, Ricky died as a result of gun shot wounds. A fatal wound entered his chest, lung, heart and liver. Ricky also had gun shot wounds in his left thigh, right forearm and left arm.

Michael,  age 17, was not at the gym, he was working at a car wash, nevertheless he was identified as being one of the young men who attacked and killed Ricky. He had an alibi witness, and a time card confirmed his alibi, however the judge did not allow the time card into evidence.

Michael was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life, plus a one year enhancement based on the use of a firearm by a principal. Following the trial, Kendall Mosley confirmed that he was at the fight, and stated that Michael was not there.

According to an appeal brief brief (pages 15-16):

“The evidence against appellant was far from overwhelming. None of the witnesses placed appellant in the hallway area where the shots were fired. Although several witnesses placed appellant at the gym during the time of the fight that preceded the killing, their identification testimony was far from compelling. For example, one of the eyewitnesses, Williams, clearly testified that he did not identify appellant as a participant in the fight at the gym although he had earlier said that appellant’s photograph “resembled” one of the suspects.”

“The identification evidence is additionally undermined by inconsistencies between witness descriptions of suspects at trial and police officers’ understandings of descriptions made by witnesses close to the time of the crime.”

“For example, Willie Bell denied having given officers a description of a suspect who  was 6’3″ or 6’4″ tall and weighed about 200 pounds. The officer, however, testified that Willie Bell gave such a description. It is very probable that the jury would have reached a more favorable result if the court had admitted defense Exhibit A (a copy of appellant’s time card). This is especially true where, as here, the record contains many indications that the case was a very close one.”

“The closeness of the case against appellant is further reflected in the relatively lengthy period of deliberations before the jury could reach any verdict. The jury  deliberated for more than eleven hours on this one-count case against one  defendant. There were no special circumstances or similarly complex allegations for the jury to consider before reaching its verdict. It simply took a significant amount of lime to deliberate before it could reach any verdict in this relatively short case.”

“The excluded defense Exhibit A (the copy of appellant’s time card for the week including the date and time of the murder) would have strengthened appellant’s alibi defense substantially. Although there was other evidence in the form of  Foster’s testimony to support the alibi defense, it was important to corroborate  Foster’s testimony.”

Documents:

Appeal Brief

Pro Se Appeal and other documents

Proposal Post

 

 

 

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