Update September 22nd, 2009. All posts on this case can be viewed HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.
Vigilante justice apparently has just received the endorsement of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office, who announced on August 6th, 2008 that they will decline to file the felony charges of aggravated assault and burglary proposed by South Salt Lake Police against against the parents of two children allegedly kidnapped by their next-door neighbor, David James "DJ" Bell, although they said the case would be referred to the South Salt Lake City Prosecutor's Office to be screened for possible misdemeanor charges. Full story published August 6th by the Deseret News. See previous post HERE.
During the early morning of July 4th, two children, a two-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy, were found in Bell's house next door. Friends and family of Bell claim the children were found wandering by themselves and Bell took them in for protection until the parents could be alerted. The parents, along with some friends, were engaged in an all-night drunken party, and they claim Bell took the girls without permission.
We now have an updated account of what happened next. When the mother found the children inside Bell's house, she got into a verbal altercation with Bell that was loud enough to wake up his partner, Dan Fair, who was sleeping in another room. The mother began hitting Bell before taking her children and leaving. As she was leaving, the mother warned the men they had better lock their doors. Moments later, at least five adults from the children's house, including their father, broke into Bell's home from several points, breaking through the locked door and some windows. Some of the adults were rumoured to be members of the Tongan Crips, although this has not been verified.
Bell and Fair were beaten, with Fair getting the worst of it. At one point, the attackers smashed a TV set onto Fair's head. He suffered a broken eye socket and his forehead was split open badly enough that doctors had to use staples to put it back together.
Now here's what we didn't know before. Bell ran out of the house to escape, but was caught in a neighbor's yard and beaten. He suffered two black eyes, the side of his head and an ear were heavily injured after his head was repeatedly pounded into the pavement and his neck was cut with shards of glass.
After police came, Bell was arrested and later charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of child kidnapping.
The attack has sparked outrage among Bell's family and members of the gay community who are calling the incident a hate crime. However, Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, is now satisfied that law enforcement and the judicial system has taken its course and uncovered the facts in this case.
The woman, who is the mother of the girl and the aunt of the boy, told the Deseret News she doesn't deny people in her house were responsible for beating the two men, but said they were only trying to protect the children. She said she knew Bell was gay, but said his sexual orientation had nothing to do with the attack. She insists that if the couple who took their children were a man and a woman, she would have reacted the same way. But she now regrets the fact that Bell and Fair suffered such a severe beating. Part of the reason the neighborhood may be so edgy is because seven-year-old Hser Nay Moo was kidnapped and killed not far away in April 2008.
But there was still no reason for the five men to come over to Bell's house after the children were recovered. And there is definitely no excuse for them to have continued to physically attack Bell after he fled his house to get away from them. With the children safely recovered, the family simply should have called the police at that point.
The five men who invaded Bell's home and attacked Bell and Fair are guilty of home invasion and are common thugs who need to be punished for taking the law into their own hands. Just because Bell is gay doesn't justify this type of action against him. We're lucky the local gay rights lobby isn't raising hell and demanding more hate crimes legislation. I dislike homosexuality and find it abominable, but I find vigilante justice even more abominable. Then again, when you consider that Lohra Miller is the Salt Lake District Attorney, it should be no surprise that they apparently endorse vigilante justice. Miller is infamous for making up the rules as she goes, breaking them at her discretion, and turning the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office into her own personal fiefdom, with her as liege lady.