Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wayne Steele called Roy Bell’s actions “senseless and cowardly” during Bell’s sentencing hearing Monday afternoon. Bell was sentenced on counts of Murder, Burglary and Robbery in an incident in which he took the life of 81-year-old Wilma Upsall on Nov. 22, 2011.
While several of Upsall’s family members were present in the courtroom during the hearing, they elected not to speak as it would be too difficult. The defense called one witness to make a statement and that witness was Amanda May Bell, Roy Bell’s youngest sister. May, which she prefers to be called, painted a picture of Roy Bell as the big brother who she aspired to be. She called him “phenomenal” and not the person who everyone thinks he is. She grew up idolizing the man who took her frog hunting and fishing and remembered the better times with Roy Bell before their grandmother died and their father went to jail. Then, Roy Bell turned to drinking and drugs and became a completely different person. In fact, it was revealed during the bench trial that Bell had been under the influence of drugs when he broke into the home where Upsall was staying with her daughter and son-in-law. Bell then helped tie her to a chair with telephone cords, robbed the home of guns and other items, and then shot and killed her.
May Bell testified that he was a completely different person when he was sober, but he was not sober the night Wilma Upsall was brutally murdered.
Prosecutor Rick Brown stated that it was apparent that this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. He said it was well planned out as Bell knew the residence and knew that there were specific items inside the home that he could steal and knew of their exact location. It was noted that only one room in the home was ransacked and that was the room where guns were stolen along with other valuables.
Brown said Upsall’s killing was senseless. He stated that the only reason Bell killed Upsall was because the mask he was wearing fell and she could identify him. She was an 81 year old woman who suffered from dementia and was in her pajamas and house slippers, bound to a chair, when she was ruthlessly shot to death.
Bell’s defense attorney stated that two families were destroyed in this “unfortunate accident” where one family lost a mother and grandmother and another lost a son. He asked the judge to consider May Bell’s testimony in that the Roy Bell who participated in this event was not the Roy Bell that everybody knows. He added that Bell was in a place where he was under the influence and was involved in events that went extremely wrong. Counsel went onto say that Bell had a limited criminal history and was not convicted of any prior charges.
In fact, Bell’s limited criminal history was the only mitigating factor Judge Steele found in his favor when giving his ruling. Judge Steele showed no leniency when sentencing Roy Bell to Life in Prison without the Possibility of Parole on the charge of Murder. Bell was additionally sentenced to ten years plus ten years enhanced on a charge of Burglary as a Class B Felony and four years plus four years enhanced on a charge of Robbery as a Class C Felony. All of those sentences will run consecutively for a total of Life without the Possibility of Parole plus 28 years.
Bell’s counsel told Judge Steele that Bell will be appealing his sentence.