Last Modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 9:48 PM
A man accused of killing his cousin was found guilty of second-degree murder Thursday afternoon in 14th Judicial District Court.
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated about two hours before voting 10-2 to convict Eric Bello, 41. What verdict the two wanted was not stated in court; in addition to not guilty, the jury had the option to find Bello guilty of the lesser crimes of manslaughter or negligent homicide.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence.
The defense never denied that Bello shot and killed Pauline Bryant on Nov. 4, 2008.
“I’m not asking you to say he’s not guilty,” defense attorney Michael McHale told the jury in his closing statements. “Don’t convict him of the crime they want you to convict him of; convict him of the crime he did.”
Bello took the stand in his own defense Thursday morning. He said he was in an illicit relationship with Pauline Bryant, his first cousin. He referred to her as “my wife” throughout his testimony, which involved several testy exchanges between him and prosecutor David Kimball.
Bello repeatedly told both Kimball and McHale that he didn’t hear their questions or asked them to repeat the questions or be more specific.
McHale said Bello had problems communicating. “He had problems communicating with me, and I’m his lawyer,” he told the jury.
Bello said a physical relationship began after Bryant said he could share her bed because of his back problems.
Kimball attempted to cast doubt on whether Bello and Bryant were in a relationship. The prosecutor said that was Bello’s story, but that Bryant was not there to defend herself.
“The only testimony of a sexual relationship is coming from you,” Kimball said, suggesting it was a fantasy of Bello’s.
Bello claimed members of Bryant’s family knew about the relationship. He said he killed Bryant after an argument about her talking to another man. He said he had talked to the man twice, the first time telling him that Bryant was his wife and the second time telling him “I love my cousin.”
Bello shot Bryant once through the chest, striking her in the heart and lungs, Coroner Terry Welke testified Wednesday. Bello said he didn’t remember grabbing the gun or holding the gun, but did remember it going off. He said he shot her at close range, while they were standing “face to face.”
McHale asked what happened immediately after the shooting. Bello closed his eyes and took a moment to respond. “I realized I just shot the woman I loved,” he said.
He said that in the time between when he shot her just before midnight on Nov. 4, 2008, and when he called police at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 6, 2008, he contemplated suicide and burned lavender and incense, two smells she liked.
He admitted shooting her on the 911 call, played in court.
Bello said he moved the body, placing it “respectfully” facedown on a blanket and two pillows in the home’s “office,” which was the same room in which he shot her.
He said the blanket and pillows were in the room because he would sometimes rest there while working, but Kimball suggested that he had planned the murder and placed them there ahead of time.
Posted By: GERTIE YVONNE SMITH On: 5/29/2013
Title: HE IS DEMENTED AND CRUEL!!!!!!
I BELIEVE THAT LIKE MY COUSIN RONALD BRYANT SAID ABOUT THE ARTICLE SUMMED IT UP REAL NICE..... WHEN ERIC BELLO TOOK MY COUSIN PAULINE BRYANT'S LIFE HE TOOK A PART OF MY LIFE AS WELL. AND I ALSO BELIEVE THAT HE DESERVES EVERYTHING THAT HE IS GETTING AND THEN SOME BECAUSE NOT ONLY DID HE TAKE MY COUSIN'S LIFE HE ALSO SCARRED MY FAMILY FOREVER!!!!! I MISS MY COUSIN SOOOOO MUCH THAT SOMETIMES IT'S HARD FOR ME TO BREATHE BECAUSE ME AND MY COUSIN PAULINE BRYANT WERE SOOOOO CLOSE AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE ERIC BELLO FOR WHAT HE DID.....AND ALSO LIKE MY COUSIN RONALD BRYANT SAID I TOO BELIEVE WITH ALL OF MY HEART WE WILL BE TOGETHER AGAIN SOME DAY!!!!! I MISS YOU SOOOOO MUCH PAULINE WITH ALL OF MY HEART(MUNKEY) WITH ALL MY LOVE GERTIE YVONNE SMITH(MUNKEY) YOUR COUSIN.
Posted By: Ronald Bryant On: 5/27/2013
Title: He is a monster
I think the article summed it up real nice . He took something that can never ever be replaced. So may people have had there lives changed because of it . There is nothing on earth or any other planet that can heal a broken heart. My baby Sis is gone forever an my own cousin took her from me. I can't put into words how much I miss her . I belive with all my heart some day we will be together again . I LOVE YOU PAULINE( BABY SIS) You BRO