Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval
County, Case #94-9776
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
R. Hudson Olliff
Trial Attorney: Ward L. Metzger
– Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C.
McClain – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
Christopher Anderson – Registry
Dates of Offense: 12/09/93
Date of Sentence: 06/02/95
Circumstances of Offense:
Michael Bell was sentenced to
two death sentences for the murders of Jimmy West and Tamecka Smith on
Earlier in 1993, Michael Bell’s
brother was killed by Theodore Wright. The shooting was deemed as
justifiable homicide because Wright claimed he fired in self-defense.
Bell vowed revenge for his brother’s death and swore to friends and
family that he would kill Wright.
On the night of 12/09/93, Bell
noticed Wright’s car in the area. He gathered two of his friends and
an AK-47 assault rifle he had purchased the day before, and returned to
the area where he had previously spotted Wright’s car. B
ell was unaware
that Wright had sold the car to his half-brother Jimmy West. Bell saw
the car in the parking lot of a liquor lounge and waited for West to
exit the club. After a while, West, Smith, and another female left the
lounge and started to enter the car. Bell proceeded to the driver’s
side of the car, opened the door, and fired at point-blank range.
died immediately from 12 bullet wounds, and Smith died from four bullet
wounds while in route to the hospital. The other female managed to duck
away from the spray of the bullets.
Bell fired at a crowd of
onlookers waiting outside the club before he fled to his aunt’s house.
Circumstances of Additional
NOTE: Bell was convicted of the following
murders subsequent to the 12/09/93 murders for which he was convicted
and sentenced to death.
On 09/25/89, Bell shot and
killed Lashawn Cowart and her two-year-old son Travis. The three were
driving together when Bell stopped, exited the vehicle and opened fire
on the mother and son. Afterwards, an accomplice vehicle came and
picked up Bell.
On 08/18/93, Bell shot and
killed Michael Johnson, the boyfriend of Bell’s mother. After the
couple had an argument, Bell went to Johnson’s house and shot him to
death on the front porch.
09/15/94 Defendant was
Count I: First-Degree
Murder (Jimmy West)
Count II: First-Degree
Murder (Tamecka Smith)
03/09/95 The jury found
the defendant guilty on Counts I & II.
03/17/95 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury,
by a 12 to 0 majority, voted for the death penalty on Counts I & II.
06/02/95 The defendant was sentenced as
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Jimmy West) - Death
First-Degree Murder (Tamecka Smith) – Death
On 07/19/95, Michael Bell filed
a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In his appeal, Bell
argued that his court-appointed counsel was incompetent and that the
court failed to allow him to represent himself under
Bell also contended that the court falsely applied the cold, calculated
and premeditated (CCP) aggravating factor and failed to recognize
certain mitigating factors.
The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the
convictions and sentences of death on 07/17/97. The mandate was issued
On 12/08/97, Bell filed a
Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court,
which was denied on 02/23/98.
On 06/01/99, Bell filed a 3.850
Motion in the State Circuit Court. That motion was denied on 01/13/00.
He appealed the ruling on the 3.850 Motion in the Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court remanded the case to the State
Circuit Court on 04/26/01, allowing an amended motion to be filed. An
amended 3.850 motion was filed on 10/03/01, which was denied on
05/31/02. Bell filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme
Court on 08/02/02.