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Lawmakers outraged by MS Parole...

Lawmakers outraged by MS Parole Board’s decision to grant parole to double murderer

By: Frank Corder - September 21, 2022

Frederick Bell is set to be paroled next Monday.

The Mississippi Parole Board has granted parole to Frederick Bell and lawmakers are raising red flags.

Bell was convicted in the Circuit Court of Grenada County of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1993. On direct appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence. However, Bell was later declared mentally retarded and, therefore, his death sentence was ruled as unconstitutional.

The Circuit Court then resentenced Bell to life without parole, but Bell appealed again, this time arguing that MS Code Section 99-19-107 did not apply to his case. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and vacated Bell’s sentence and remanded it for resentencing.

Now, the Mississippi Parole Board has notified the family of the victim Bell murdered over 30 years ago that they have determined that he “has been rehabilitated” and that they feel that “private supervision will be more beneficial than further incarceration.”

The Parole Board set his tentative release date for September 26, 2022, pending completion of the documentation process.

The family of the victim Bell murdered cannot believe he is being released and has contacted lawmakers seeking assistance.

“Not only did this animal kill my brother – shot him 9 times – on May 6, 1991, he also traveled to Memphis, Tennessee where he killed another store clerk the same day,” the brother of the victim told Y’all Politics.

State Senator Angela Hill is among the lawmakers appalled at the Parole Board’s action on Bell.

“I stand with the victim’s family in opposing the release of this convicted double murderer who brutally shot 9 bullets into the body of their loved one who was just trying to work for a living,” Hill said on Wednesday. “This same violent criminal was found guilty of murder of a Tennessee store clerk the same day of this murder in Mississippi. I can’t imagine the anguish of this family knowing he will be free Monday if the parole board doesn’t reverse course.”

Senator Hill said that no amount of time in prison is sufficient for two murders.

“The public deserves to be safe. Victims of violence matter,” Hill added.

State Rep. Stacey Wilkes agrees with Senator Hill.  Wilkes says the deceased victims will never have the opportunity to have their lives restored because of the heinous crimes committed against them by Fredrick Bell.

“Public safety is paramount with this nationwide explosion of violent crime. I stand with the family of the victim in strong opposition to the release on parole of Fredrick Bell who has been found guilty of murdering and robbing two people in two states on the same day,” Rep. Wilkes said. “Life should mean life for these types of violent felons.”
State Rep. Dana McLean joined her colleagues in their outrage on the news of the parole.  She said as legislators, they receive hundreds of emails every week from across the spectrum of non-profit groups, government agencies, businesses, constituents and more, but she says she has never been so shocked and disturbed while reading an email from a crime victim’s family member to learn that a double murderer was about to be released from a Mississippi prison in less than a week.
“Year after year the murder victim’s family attended the inmate’s parole hearings in person. Year after year they were assured by the Mississippi Parole Board that the murderer would never be released,” Rep. McLean said. “Once again in July 2022 they were given the same response in person at the parole hearing.”
Rep. McLean questioned the statement by the Parole Board that the move was “more beneficial,” asking more beneficial to whom?
“Obviously, it is more beneficial to the inmate to be free from prison bars and be able to walk among us uninhibited in a free society,” McLean said.  “But is it truly more beneficial to the state of Mississippi and its citizens, our innocent families and children? More beneficial to release a mentally incompetent individual, who could possibly be more dangerous and more easily persuaded to reoffend, into our community? When do the rights and privileges of a double murderer supersede the rights and privileges of law-abiding Mississippians who deserve to live in safe communities and free from fear of violent criminal parolees?”
Rep. McLean said the state should not be soft on crime by releasing violent murderers, rapists, and kidnappers back into our communities.
“We have seen too many horrific crimes committed by recent violent parolees – rapes, kidnappings, murders in Memphis and Tupelo for example,” McLean added. “These victims deserve better, and their families deserve better. We cannot sit back and not do something. The state of Mississippi is depending on us to act and act swiftly.”


According to court records:

On May 6, 1991, Robert C. “Bert” Bell was working as a store clerk at Sparks Stop-and-Go in Grenada County. That day Frederick Bell accompanied by Anthony Joe Doss, Robert Kennedy James, and Frank Coffey purchased beer and potato chips from Bert. The two Bells are not related.

The four exited the store, sat at a nearby picnic table and talked. Planning to go to Memphis, Bell said that he needed money. Bell announced that he was going to rob the store and showed the group a .22 caliber pistol. Doss also had in his possession a gun, which turned out to be inoperable. Refusing to take part, James and Coffey departed the premises as the other two went back into the store. Minutes later, James and Coffey heard hollering accompanied by gunshots. When Bell and Doss caught up with the other two, they showed them items they had taken from the store, including a money bag, .38 caliber pistol and a box of bullets. Because he did not want any witnesses, Bell then threatened to kill James. Coffey and Doss stepped in to prevent this. Both James and Coffey testified that Bell said he shot Bert.

Later that day, Bernard Gladney drove Bell, Doss, and Coffey to Memphis. On the way, Bell again stated that he wanted to kill James to prevent him from telling anyone about the murder.

Eventually, Bell was arrested in Memphis on another crime. Two guns were found in the house where he was arrested, a third was found in Gladney’s vehicle. Leland H. Jones, III, represented Bell during both the trial and the direct appeal. During the trial, there was no direct testimony regarding what actually occurred inside the store. Bell maintained that he was in Memphis the day of the murder.

However, there were no witnesses to corroborate his alibi. Both James’s sister and Coffey’s girlfriend testified that they saw Bell with Coffey, Doss and James the day of the murder.

The store owner, James Shelby Sparks, testified that a .38 caliber pistol (which was later recovered during Bell’s arrest), a box of shells, and a money bag were taken from the store during the robbery. An autopsy revealed that Bert was shot several times. Ballistics tests showed that Bert was shot with the .38 and a smaller caliber gun, likely a .22 caliber.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: