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March 26, 2014 - 6:07pm

Shane Bell found not guilty in felony assault case

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.
Shane M. Bell

Shane Bell, accused of felony assault against a fellow patron of the The Harvester on Aug. 25, was found not guilty by a Genesee County jury.

The jury deliberated for about two hours this afternoon.

Bell admitted to hitting Scott Baker once. Baker suffered a serious head injury and was in a coma for a period of time and remains in a nursing home seven months later.

Though District Attorney Lawrence Friedman did speak with the jury briefly after the verdict, he said they didn't discuss the specifics of why they found Bell not guilty. It could have been the justification (self) defense or it could have been they didn't think Bell had the intent when he hit Baker to cause serious physical injury.

"Needless to say disappointed," Friedman said. "I believed in this case. It was certainly my belief that the defendant committed this crime. Obviously, I have to accept and respect the verdict of the jury."

William Tedford, who defended Bell out of the Public Defender's Office, said he felt they had a strong justification case.

"I think there were a lot of issues, but if you focus on the justification issue, even though you have other issues, and come to some kind of consensus on that -- not that it makes the other issues moot -- it does expedite the discussion some," Tedford said.

Tedford said it was also always part of the defense's case that the level of intoxication for Baker contributed to the outcome of the incident.

"I also think we presented enough evidence that my client lacked the intent, with only one punch, to cause serious physical harm," Tedford said. "It was highly unforeseeable that would cause the extent of the harm it did, and I think the jury realized that."

Friedman said he did find out from the jury that they found the video evidence presented very useful.

The video, recorded with audio, showed Bell minutes after the confrontation and captured most of his statements to police. The jury also saw video of Bell being interviewed at the police station, and though Bell sometimes contradicted himself on details, he repeatedly said he didn't think he hit Baker all that hard.

Friedman argued in his closing remarks that the video showed a man trying to cover his tracks, but neglecting to mention a key element of the justification defense -- that he felt threatened.

Regardless of the outcome, I think it's a very valuable tool," Friedman said. "As I said to them (the jury), for one thing, it's so much more helpful than just having the cold words written down. To see the person and how they're acting and what they're saying and how they're saying things. When they take a written statement from somebody, obviously, they don't take down everything they say. It's not really practical. It is helpful. I was glad to have it. Despite the outcome, I still think it was a good thing to have."

In his close, Tedford put much of the blame for the incident on Baker. Asked if he had anything to say to the family, Tedford answered, "Mr. Bell and I are both very sympathetic to his injuries and of course we're very apologetic for what he and the family are going through. I know Mr. Bell and I both strongly believe and agree with the verdict, but his injuries are extremely unfortunate and we've very apologetic."

Tedford said his client, who has been in jail for seven months, was thrilled with the verdict.

"I think he's excited to get home and see his dog and have a home-cooked meal," Tedford said.

Christopher Putnam
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I want to thank the jury for upholding everyone's right to defend themselves if they are threatened. I want to thank the jury for not taking the defendants threatening appearance into account. Mostly however thank you for upholding the value that i hold dear, the value that you are responsible for your actions. No amount of drugs or alcohol excuse you from this moral truism, if you drink yourself to the point of idiocy and act like an ass, you may get put on your ass.
My sympathies only goes so far, when your actions were the root cause of your injuries, however Its my sincere hope that Mr. Baker will recover from his injuries. No one should have to live their life in a bed.

Lincoln DeCoursey
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Thanks for the great coverage. It's definitely the best coverage of this trial.

Bob Harker
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Howard, there weren't any lesser included offenses that could have been considered?

Howard B. Owens
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There weren't.

david spaulding
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i remember when this story was first published in the Batavian .i made the statement "that it takes two to tango" and i got hammered from fellow posters. people accused me of coming to conclusions, when in fact i did not. i tried to explain what i said and all i got was attacked, even howard took a swipe at me. debra n. called me ignorant.
looks like it does take two to tango, the lynch mob can now eat crow.

Jeff Allen
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David, I went back and read those original posts. You offered the viewpoint of culpability on both parties and you were slammed pretty well. You have most certainly been exonerated and have earned an "I told you so"

RICHARD L. HALE
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David.....next time you get "hammered", remember the famous quote by Larry Flynt.

Opinions are like - - - - - - - - , everybody has one.

Christopher Putnam
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You left out the key part of the quote.

Its like this
Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one, and most of them stink.

Raymond Richardson
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Personally, I think this is a case that should have never been in the court system to begin with.

With what was reported, it was a clear cut case of self defense right from the start.

Thankfully, justice has prevailed.

Debra Nanni
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David I apologize to you. I did not refer to you as a person as ignorant. I said that the statement that ANYONE who recieves a punch in the face or head asked for it is an ignorant statement. What was brought to mind was the elderly woman in Walmart who was punched, the poor guy leaving the concert who was mistaken for someone else and sucker-punched, the lady in Albion leaving Walmart who was stabbed to death for her car keyes. Having been a bartender, I am familiar with the victim and to be honest I AGREE with the verdict !! I simply felt the comments you made were just a little too vague and maybe included people who really DIDN"T ask for that punch. Once again please accept my apology, I truly am sorry if I was rude and did not mean to direct it to you as a person.

Howard B. Owens
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David,

I just spent considerable time trying to find the comments you reference.

You're "two to tango" comment was left on a totally separate and unrelated incident. It was left on an article about an incident on State Street.

You left no comments at all on any post about this incident.

I didn't take a swipe at you. I merely pointed out that you were making accusations based on assumptions with no evidence or facts to back up your statements. That isn't a swipe. That's just being factual.

Jeff Allen
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I thought the August 25th incident and September 26th incident were the same story. However, the rush to judgement lesson in both would apply.

david spaulding
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Howard, original post was on sept. 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm by billie

Howard B. Owens
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David, the very first post on this -- the first news reported anywhere on this -- was Aug. 28.

I wrote it, not Billie.

http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/sunday-night-fight-harvester-avenue-...

The Sept. 26 post by Billie was about a person on State Street being punched.

http://thebatavian.com/billie-owens/man-seriously-injured-altercation-un...

That's where you said, "since it takes two to tango, I hope they arrested him too...."

Neither Mr. Bell nor Mr. Baker were involved in the Sept. 26 incident. It was on a different street and a month later.

Above you write, "i remember when this story was first published in the Batavian ..." and you say your wrote at that time "it takes two to tango." But you did not write that on the Aug. 28 story, the one involving Bell and Baker. You wrote it on the Sept. 26 story, the one that DID NOT involve Bell and Baker.

daniel cherry
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My friend Scott came over to see me.He will never be the same.He can barely walk.He had to learn ho again.The verdict was wrong.Read the laws.Bell could have retreated from the tummy bump and shoulder touch if he were so scared of a frail drunk man.I went to see Scott it was horrific.And no body deserves what happened to him unless the had a weapon.Like Shane bell did.Yea after the trial is over people said it was a crowbar.Some stories said it was one punch.He had a dislocated jaw collapsed lung and a huge indent in his right fore head.People who say he deserved this you are wrong!I told you so.

What sort of animals would say its OK?Its a question??Its not OK.What it were your son or relative or friend.

What i think is Scott should sue him and since he wont pay put a lien on him.See if he ever drives gets a loan any thing.If he eve had a job he'd pay it all an starve.I am ashamed of the Jury.I don't accept the verdict.Its a horrific injustice!!!

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