Edward Bell: A Case for Clemency in Virginia

On Feb. 19, 2009, Edward N. Bell, 43, is scheduled to be executed for the murder of Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook in Winchester, VA. However, Bell maintains his innocence and has garnered the support of many, including the European Union and Amnesty International.

There is speculation that Bell may suffer from mild retardation. Amnesty contends that Bell’s conviction was based largely on circumstantial evidence, and representatives of the EU pointed out that as Bell is a Jamaican national, “the Virginian authorities failed to notify Mr. Bell of his right to contact a Jamaican Consulate for assistance at the time of his arrest.”

Besides the question of Bell’s innocence, there is also the question of the role of race. Bell, who is black, was convicted of killing a white police officer by an all white jury. The races involved should not matter, but studies have shown that legal courts think otherwise. A 2005 Santa Clara Law Review study revealed that in California murder trials, those who murdered whites were three times more likely to receive the death penalty than those who murdered blacks, and four times more likely to receive the death penalty than those who murdered Latinos. Although this study examines cases in California only, nationwide states’ records have revealed to show similar results, placing greater value on whites’ lives than on the lives of minorities.

While the death of Sgt. Timbrook is truly lamentable, why should Bell be given the death sentence when others have been convicted of more gruesome acts or with more victims involved, and have received at most life imprisonment?

The debate about the death penalty will potentially never be resolved, and while states’ legal systems vary, there needs to be consistency and care when issuing the death penalty–a convicted criminal should not have to face execution simply because he or she chose to commit the crime in the wrong state.

If you would like to show support for Edward N. Bell and ask for clemency, please sign the citizen petition.


Charlotte L.
Charlotte L9 years ago

I think a life sentence is more sorrowful than a death sentence. Except for someone who committed murder of a child or young person, and if it was especially gruesome and sadistic, should someone be executed. To me, there is murder and there is murder. Some are more excusable, more "kind" than others. Motives differ. Someone who tortures for pleasure needs to be killed, needs to meet their maker for further and devine punishment. Needs to be wiped off the face of the earth. Especially for the killing of a young life simply to satisfy a sexual urge. I don't care how "sick" they are, they need to be exterminated. A broken heart that has broken a spirit, and twisted a mind, a life sentence is more appropriate. A killing, simple and clean and possibly accidental, a life sentence or 2nd degree conviction. Drug addicts who rob and kill? If treatment didn't cost a years pay maybe they wouldn't have been in that position, maybe early intervention would have saved them in turn saving the person they killed trying to get money to feed their habit. The mentally ill kicked out of public institutions by the Reagin administration into the streets, being too ill to get to places for medications, or worse, not able to afford medications they need, killing for reasons we can't even understand, life in a prison where they will get these medications and be able then to understand why they are locked up and suffer appropriately

Citlalli Valles
Citlalli Valles9 years ago

I personally believe there should be no such thing as a death penalty at all! An eye for an eye will leave us all blind. - Gandhi

Mary Neal
Mary Neal9 years ago

Thank you for the petition to endorse my approval for clemency for Edward Bell. I will add a link to the petition to my Care2News Network article published yesterday in HEALTH regarding Bell's need for assistance.

Mary Garner
Mary Garner9 years ago

I also agree that not only is the case against Edward N. Bell is flawed, but the whole system is flawed. But it just goes to show the nation and the world that nothing or not much has changed since '' SLAVERY '' Blacks are still being lynched by '' Whites'' it's just done legally by the '' LAW ''..........Different time, differeny people!

Eric Senior
Eric Senior9 years ago

i whole heartedly agree that the case against Edward N Bell seems flawed,and in such cases the DEATH penalty should not be ivoked.Eric Senior UK