D.J. Bell as he appeared shortly after the attack
After several months in denial, Salt Lake County prosecutors are finally taking another look at the case of two gay men who were severely beaten after one of them, David James Bell, allegedly kidnapped a neighbor's children. Media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.
For more background on this case, review all previous posts HERE. The most recent post will appear first.
In August 2008, county prosecutors cited a lack of evidence and declined to file felony assault or burglary charges against the alleged attackers, who are related to the children. But now, attorneys are again reviewing the beating, particularly the alleged attack on Bell's housemate, Dan Fair. According to deputy assistant district attorney Alicia Cook, no new facts have been discovered, but they are reviewing the case "under different theory". This means they are considering other charges instead of assault. However, Cook cautioned that a decision will not be rendered anytime soon. City prosecutors from South Salt Lake declined to press any misdemeanor charges against the five attackers.
The county district attorney's change of heart may also have been spurred by a December 1st hearing before 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan regarding the admissibility of statements made to police by Bell after the attack. The defense wanted to suppress Bell's statement because it contained confusing and conflicting statements reflecting Bell's impaired physical condition after the beating, and because police failed to end their interview with Bell when he said he wanted an attorney. During that hearing, the defense team once again reiterated that the neighbors who beat Bell and Fair were not charged with assault by either county or city prosecutors. But Judge Maughan ruled that the interview can be heard by a jury because Bell's statement about wanting an attorney was ambiguous.
County prosecutors continue to charge Bell with two felony counts of first degree child kidnapping and one felony count of second degree burglary stemming from a Fourth of July party. Bell told police he found two children, ages 2 and 4, awake and fussy, and took them over to his house so they could sleep on the couch. The children had already been removed from Bell's home when as many as five adult relatives broke down a door, invaded and trashed Bell's home, and brutally beat the two men. The assailants then chased Bell out of his own house and continued the assault outside, where Bell's throat and toe were sliced with broken glass and his head was slammed on the sidewalk. Fair, who has not been charged in the alleged kidnapping, was also beaten and a large TV was thrown onto his head.
It also looks like the five assailants are attempting to cover their tracks further by now spreading the word that they were unaware that the children had been returned to their own home before they staged the attack. The mother of the girls continues to insist there is no anti-gay bias involved.
Bell's attorney Roger Kraft has called the case a hate crime, and threatened legal action against the family and the prosecutor's office. The kidnapping case against Bell is scheduled for trial in April 2009. Advocates for Bell and Fair have set up the Injustice801 website to inform the public and appeal for support.