Bell wins hearing mental retardation claim

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a Grenada County judge to conduct a hearing into whether Frederick Bell is mentally retarded and thus barred from being executed.

Bell’s post-conviction petition filed with the court raised a number issues but the court, in a 6-3 decision Thursday, granted his petition only on the issue of mental retardation.

In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he has found new evidence — or a possible constitutional issue — that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

Bell was once on Attorney General Jim Hood’s short list of potential executions in 2010.

Hood’s petition for the setting of an execution date was denied Thursday by the Supreme Court.

Bell, now 39, was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to death.

Bell and Anthony Joe Doss were convicted of killing Bert Bell, no relation, on May 6, 1991, during an armed robbery of Sparks Stop-N-Shop in Grenada County.

Doss also was sentenced to death.

Bell’s petition also focused on the competency of his attorney, an issue rejected by the Supreme Court.

Presiding Justice George C. Carlson Jr., writing for the majority, said Bell had presented sufficient evidence of mental retardation to justify a hearing in the trial court.