Accused dog burner’s hearing continued

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

A Selma man charged with burning a dog to death has had his case continued for a second time.

Johnnie Lee Bell Jr., 19, is charged with dog/cat cruelty first-degree, as is his co-defendant, Jonah Justin Edwards, 19. The charge stems from a September 2002 incident involving Roger and Missy Cook’s dog, Killer.

According to Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ed Greene, a youthful offender hearing for Bell was continued on Tuesday because a mental evaluation wasn’t ready.

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Mental evaluations were done at Taylor Harden Secure Medical Facility, but they are now contracted out to private firms. Funds weren’t available for the evaluation a few months ago, but have since been gained.

It’s expected that Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs will hold Bell’s youthful offender hearing March 17.

Edwards pleaded guilty to the charge and is scheduled for sentencing on the same day. Edwards was denied youthful offender status in March. If it had been granted, he would have faced one to three years in jail. He now faces one to 10 years.

Both men are out on bond.

Bell’s original youthful offender hearing was scheduled for Sept. 5, but a motion to continue filed by his attorney, Blanchard McLeod, pushed the date to Tuesday when it was continued again.

According to Greene, on Sept. 29, 2002, Bell and Edwards allegedly poured lighter fluid on the Cooks’ dog and tied it to a bed frame in the woods. They then allegedly lit the animal on fire and left the scene.

The dog apparently escaped at some point because it was eventually found by the Cooks at their home.