Los Angeles County prosecutors claim a Whittier man facing the death penalty for fatally shooting four people tried to arrange a gang hit on Steven Bickel, an Orange County deputy district attorney attached to the Welfare Fraud unit.
The allegation was made Monday during the penalty phase of 37-year-old Cimarron Bell's murder trial.
Whittier Daily News has the scoop.
Bell, who is being tried in Norwalk Superior Court, was convicted last week on four counts of first-degree murder.
On Nov. 11, 2003,
Bell killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Ineka Edmondson of Compton, whose body was
discovered the next day in her parked car in an industrial area of La
Habra. On Jan. 27, 2004, Bell fatally shot Fernando Pina, 25, of Mexico; Mario Larios, 23, of West Covina; and
Edgar Valles, 22, of La Puente. They had gone to Bell's house to look at a car he had advertised as being up for sale.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office in 2003 charged Bell and his wife,
Scherrice St. Clair, with 47 felony counts of filing false or forged
documents. Bickel was the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
The couple, using a corporation name, filed phony liens
against properties claiming they were owed $1,000 or $3,000 from escrow.
The escrow company would pay the corporation that amount before the
house could be sold.
Bickel convinced St. Clair to accept a plea deal that sent her to county jail for a year and got her three years of
probation, but the prosecutor told Bell's attorney during talks in 2004
that he wanted the South Whittier man to spend at least 15 years behind bars.
Under questioning from Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee , another of Bell's girlfriends, Nyesa Wyatt, said the defendant talked to a gang banger nicknamed “Dirt Rock” to kill Bickel because of the prison time Bell was facing.
Wyatt further testified that Bell wanted Bickel's movements tracked, including which entrance and exits he
used in court. The Daily News' Ruby Gonzalez quotes Wyatt telling the court of Bell, “He basically told him to stand on top of the building and shoot the district attorney before entering the court.”
“Dirt Rock,” whose real name the newspaper agreed not to publish for his safety, also testified Monday that he did not recall anything about being told to stand on a roof. But he did remember talking with Bell around Christmas 2003 about Bickel.
“He did say it was a certain DA that he didn't want on the
case. That if the DA disappeared, it would be over with,” “Dirt Rock”
Bell asked “Dirt Rock” to accompany him to court in Orange County and snap photographs of Bickel, and “Dirt Rock” was paid $1,000 or $2,000 for his troubles, he testified.
Obviously, nothing happened to Bickel.
Gonzalez reports that Bell muttered something under his breath at the defense table while “Dirt Rock” testified. Perhaps it was a threat: Hanisee claims Bell previously threatened to kill Wyatt and Briaell Michael Lee, 28, of Los Angeles, who faces a triple-murder trial later this year for allegedly being Bell's accomplice in the slayings of Pina, Larios and Valles.