Gell testifies in murder case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

WINDSOR – For the first time since his 1995 arrest for the slaying of Allen Ray Jenkins of Aulander, Alan Gell publicly broke his nine-year silence in the crime.

Gell, now 29, took the stand in his own defense here Tuesday afternoon as new his trial, ordered in December of 2002 after local Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant overturned his death sentence, moved into its sixth day. He sat in the witness box for nearly 90 minutes, fielding a barrage of questions from both defense counsel Joseph Cheshire and state prosecutor Jim Coman. Another round of testimony occurred Wednesday morning, this one consuming two and one-half hours.

At the urging of his defense team at that time, Gell did not testify during his first trial in February of 1998. There, the testimony of Hertford County teens Crystal Morris and Shanna Hall – co-defendants in the crime who pled guilty to second degree murder in exchange for their testimony against Gell – helped lead to Gell’s capital murder conviction.

Under examination from Cheshire, Gell admitted to a &uot;pretty bad lifestyle&uot; in 1995 and prior. He said he was selling and using drugs and, &uot;running the roads.&uot; Gell added it wasn’t uncommon for him to party hard all night and sleep all day.

He stated he met Morris and Hall through an acquaintance within the local drug community. Gell said he developed a relationship with Hall.

&uot;They (Morris, Hall) enjoyed living the same lifestyle I did,&uot; he noted. &uot;We partied a lot.&uot;

Cheshire asked Gell was it unusual for him to go to Hall’s home at night; go out with them at night or for the girls to stay at his mobile home in Lewiston. Gell said it wasn’t unusual for that to occur.

The defense attorney asked Gell of his whereabouts on April 2-3, 1995. He answered he was in jail (for stealing a tractor) on those dates. He was later shown jail records that revealed he was released on April 2. He said he didn’t recall spending the night of April 2 at Hall’s parent’s home in Union, even though both girls as well as Hall’s mother testified he was there.

As far as April 3 – the date the state said Jenkins was murdered – was concerned, Gell stated he didn’t recall all the events of that day.

Asked if was at the home of Jenkins on that day, Gell replied, &uot;no&uot; and that he didn’t know Jenkins or where he lived since he had never visited his residence.

&uot;I did not know Allen Ray Jenkins; I didn’t kill Allen Ray Jenkins and I don’t know how anybody could say that I did kill Allen Ray Jenkins,&uot; stressed Gell.

Gell did say he vaguely remembers carrying Morris and Hall to Aulander on the afternoon of April 3. He added that he must have stranded them there because they later called him at his Lewiston residence to come pick them up.

However, sometimes during the day on April 3, his vehicle experienced mechanical problems and became undriveable. His testimony revealed he attempted to contact a few friends to see if they could carry him to Aulander and pick-up the girls, but to no avail.

He finally convinced his mother to allow his sister to drive him to Aulander. She did, dropping him off at the Red Apple (convenience store) where the girls asked for him to meet them.

&uot;If my mother or my sister had known that I was going to meet Shanna and Crystal, I would not have made it to Aulander because my mother and sister didn’t like them,&uot; said Gell.

After meeting the girls at the Red Apple, Gell said they left on foot in the direction of Morris’ grandmother’s home in Aulander. The grandmother, Maybelle Davidson, had earlier testified she recalled the girls and Gell coming to her house on the night of April 3, 1995.

En route to the Davidson home, Gell said he was briefly stopped at a used car lot by a man wanting to purchase drugs. Gell said he didn’t have any to sell and they continued walking in the direction of Davidson’s residence. Upon arrival, Gell testified that one of the girls called Gary Scott (Morris’ boyfriend) to come pick them up. Meanwhile, Gell said he waited in the living room, sitting and watching TV.

Gell testified that Scott arrived a short time later, took him home and then took the girls to the Hall residence.

Early on the morning of April 4, Gell said that, in exchange for crack cocaine, he borrowed Dwayne Connor’s truck in order to drive to Maryland where he had promised to install a sound system in the vehicle of an acquaintance.

Gell drove to Hall’s residence, picked her up and the two made their way on US 13 north to Maryland. The two got a motel room and Gell, under testimony, said Hall wanted some cocaine, so he went to the home of an acquaintance in order for that person to lead him to a known source of drugs in that area. He said they wound-up at a housing project, not knowing the people there. He approached a group of men and asked to purchase some cocaine. In turn, he said he was beaten and robbed.

&uot;That ruined everything,&uot; Gell stated. &uot;We had no money to get home.&uot;

Gell and Hall returned to the motel, operated by an acquaintance of his family. He asked to use the phone to call his mother, hoping she would wire the money to him. Instead, the motel owner gave him $50 in cash for gas and tolls.

Once he and Hall arrived back in North Carolina (on April 5, 1995), Gell learned that there was an arrest warrant on him for stealing Connor’s truck. He said he voluntarily surrendered on April 6 to the Bertie Sheriff’s Office.

&uot;I begged my mom to come bail me out, but she said I needed to learn a lesson,&uot; recalled Gell, who was released on April 20.

Gell stated he heard from Morris and Hall while in jail. He said that during a phone conversation, they told him they had been questioned about, &uot;a friend that had been shot.&uot;

Upon leaving jail, Gell said he was placed under house arrest. However, he broke house arrest when he and Connor went to Florida later in April. En route to Florida, Gell called the girls to let them know of his whereabouts.

&uot;(During that conversation), did they (Hall, Morris) tell you that the police may want to talk with you (about Jenkins’ murder),&uot; asked Cheshire.

&uot;Yes,&uot; answered Gell, &uot;but I took it lightly. I thought they were joking.&uot;

Gell said the plan for he and Connor in Florida was to get back into the drug business, make some money and go back home in time for his court date on the truck theft charge. Those plans never materialized as Gell said he and Connor were arrested for attempting to leave a Pizza Hut without paying for the meal.

He went on to say that once the Florida lawmen found out that he had broken house arrest, he did not fight extradition and was taken back to North Carolina. While in jail in Bertie County, Gell said he was interviewed for the first time in connection with the Jenkins murder.

&uot;Did you kill Allen Ray Jenkins,&uot; asked Cheshire.

&uot;No sir,&uot; answered Gell. &uot;I had nothing to do with his death.&uot;

(Coming Saturday: Gell’s cross examination by state prosecutors).