Mistrial declared in burglary case

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2000

After almost three hours of deliberation Wednesday night, a Warren County jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of a Vicksburg man accused of burglarizing two day-care centers.

The two-day trial then ended when Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor declared a mistrial.

The six men and six women on the jury left the courtroom at 3:10 p.m. to decide the fate of 43-year-old McKinley Bell.

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A unanimous verdict is required to convict.

Bell remains accused of the April 21 burglary of Small World and Colonial Day School on Belmont Street.

Assistant District Attorney John Bullard, who tried the case, said there would be a new trial.

“It will probably be sometime next year,” Bullard said.

Bell’s record includes 45 arrests in the past 24 years, ranging from burglary and grand larceny to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.

On Tuesday, Lt. Bob Donohue, Vicksburg Police Department crime scene investigator, testified that fingerprints found at the scene of the crime were matched to Bell through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Paul Wilkerson, a fingerprint analyst with the Mississippi State Crime Lab, testified Wednesday that 11 of Bell’s prints were found in and around the day-care centers.

Wilkerson said several were found on a window that had been broken on one of the buildings, on a salt shaker inside the building and on a bar of chocolate inside the building.

Bell’s prints were also found on a microwave and TV that were taken from Colonial.

The items were found on the porch of an abandoned house across Belmont.

Bell, 1303 Harrison St., testified Wednesday that he happened upon the day-care centers after they had already been burglarized.

“I was picking up aluminum cans and I saw the broken window and I started looking in the building,” Bell said.

He said he entered Small World through a back door that he claimed was already open.

Bell said he took some food from the day care but that was all.

“I thought it would be nice to have a snack on my journey,” Bell said.

As for his prints on the microwave and TV, Bell said he went to the house to eat his snacks and noticed them sitting on the porch.

“I just touched them to see what they were,” he said.

Bell was facing a possible life sentence if convicted because he was deemed a habitual offender. He will remain in the Warren County Jail pending a new trial.