Fremont man accused of moving dead body faces new charges

A Fremont man initially facing a single felony count of tampering with evidence after being accused of moving the body of a deceased man suspected to have overdosed was indicted on additional drug-related charges.

James R. Bell, 40, was first charged with tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. He is accused of tampering with the scene where 47-year-old Port Clinton resident Harold Carter died on April 16.

Later that month, the Port Clinton Police Department filed two additional complaints in connection to the incident, resulting in two counts of intimidation of a witness, also third-degree felonies.

According to the criminal complaints and court records, Bell allegedly cleaned the kitchen floor of the apartment where Carter died, located at Bay Meadows in Port Clinton, and disposed of syringes after moving Carter's body. Police also allege that Bell intimidated two witnesses to the reported tampering.

Last week, Bell was indicted on three more charges by an Ottawa County grand jury, including fifth-degree felony drug trafficking, fifth-degree felony drug possession and fourth-degree misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, according to a news release from Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan.

“Once (Carter’s) toxicology results are available, it’s possible that more charges could be forthcoming,” Mulligan said.

The indictment also specified the forfeiture of $1,880 found in Bell’s possession at the time of his arrest.

Bell previously pleaded not guilty and his bond was set at $500,000. The bond report referenced a "lengthy" criminal history, which includes failure to appear charges.

Bell’s defense attorney, Nancy Jennings, motioned for a lower bond, but the motion was denied by Ottawa County Common Pleas Judge Bruce Winters.

Jennings also motioned to dismiss the original indictment of tampering from April, arguing the indictment “did not state with specificity what evidence it was that was being allegedly tampered with,” thus failing to inform Bell of what he had done to constitute the offense.

Assistant Prosecutor Joe Gerber, opposing the motion, argued that the issues raised in the defense’s motion to dismiss are moot and that court records show the factual basis for the indictment is that Bell allegedly moved the body of Carter, which is separate from the initial complaint accusing Bell of cleaning the kitchen and disposing of syringes.

A hearing for the case is scheduled for 1 p.m., June 1, in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court, with a jury trial set for July 12.

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