Bridgeton, New Jersey

From the Bridgeton News of August 3, 2007

Bell acquitted in 06 [sic] shooting

A 31-year-old Bridgeton man was acquitted Thursday on charges of first-degree attempted murder in connection with a 2005 shooting incident in Gouldtown.

Leroy Bell, of Hampton Street, was also acquitted on various weapons charges, with the exception of fourth-degree possession of a firearm without a permit, for which he was convicted.

Bell was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault as well. However, jurors found he acted in defense in connection with those charges, negating those convictions.

Because Bell was convicted of a felony, Superior Court Judge Timothy Farrell ordered him to turn over all firearms he may own.

In a 2005 statement to detectives, Bell admitted shooting at the alleged victim in the case, 20-year-old Douglas Lawson, of North Pearl Street, Bridgeton, but only after Lawson shot at him during an incident on Longview Avenue in Fairfield Township on Aug. 30, 2005.

Neither Bell nor Lawson were injured in either of the two incidents.

Detectives who testified during a one-day trial Wednesday said that they found no evidence corroberating Bell’s assertion that he was acting in self-defense.

Lawson declined to testify against Bell.

Lawson is facing charges of attempted murder himself, in connection with a separate incident that also occurred on Longview Avenue on Aug. 30, 2005, in which its alleged Lawson fired a gun at Bell.

The only witnesses in the trial were two detectives who worked on the case, although several other people were said to have been at the scene of the shooting.

Bell was facing a potential prison sentence of 30 years to life in prison if convicted of attempted murder.

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