Homicide suspect to be tried in two counties

By Gus Bode

One of the men charged in connection to the death of a Carbondale woman is being tried in both Williamson and Jackson Counties, said Nellie Pritchett, Williamson County Courthouse deputy clerk.

Robert E. Bell, 47, of Marion, has been in Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro since his arrest Sept. 13 with a bail of $1 million. He is charged with drug-induced homicide, concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice. However, the charge of drug-induced homicide has been transferred to Williamson County.

The charges stem from the death of Lasonya Marquita Bradsfield, 37, whose body was found by maintenance workers May 16 in Snyder Hill Cemetery on East Park Street in Carbondale. An autopsy later revealed she had died of a drug overdose.

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Carbondale Police later learned from a confidential source that Bradsfield was with two men at a Marion home before her death. Police believe she was given the drug morphine and died at the residence. The two men, believed to be Bell and his younger brother, Ronald A. Bell, 32, of Johnston City, allegedly dumped Bradsfield’s body in the cemetery to lead police to think she had died there.

Because Bradsfield died while in Marion, it was ruled Oct. 11 Jackson County had no jurisdiction over the charge of drug-induced homicide and the charge was transferred to Williamson County, according to the Jackson County Web site.

Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec confirmed the transfer but would not comment on the details of the case.

Although Williamson County Courthouse has received the orders, nothing has been scheduled in terms of a preliminary hearing or a trial date, Pritchett said.

Ronald Bell, who previously told the Daily Egyptian he was the confidential source that led police to reconsider the case, is also charged with concealment of a homicidal death and obstruction of justice. He spent a week in Jackson County Jail after his arrest Sept. 8 and has been out on bond since Sept. 14.

Bradsfield’s family said she was a good friend of the older Bell for nearly a decade, and that he often visited her mother, Edna Bradsfield of Carbondale, after her Lasonya Bradsfield’s death.

Despite this, the family is eager to see that justice is served, Valerie Bradsfield, a sister, said from her Belleville home.

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The family hopes the authorities continue with the homicide charges, Valerie Bradsfield said, and will definitely attend trials in Williamson and Jackson Counties.

Ronald Bell is scheduled to stand trail Nov. 28.

Reporter Haley Murray can be reached at [email protected]

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