Gell surrenders

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2006

WINDSOR – Twenty-six months after being granted his freedom, James Alan Gell is back in jail.

Gell, who made state and national headlines in 2004 after a second trial found him not guilty of first-degree murder, surrendered on his own accord here Wednesday morning at the Bertie Sheriff’s Office.

The 31-year-old Lewiston-Woodville man stands charged with 32 sexual offenses. Those felonies stem from his alleged involvement with a Gates County teenager, including 16 counts of statutory rape and 14 counts of indecent liberties with a child.

Additionally, he stands charged with two other sex-related felonies n second degree sexual exploration of a minor and an internet cyber crime where he allegedly displayed pornographic photos on a computer.

Gell, jailed under a $322,000 bond, was also formally charged with felony possession of cocaine, an incident stemming from a February search of his home.

After making his first appearance in Bertie District Court, Judge Thomas Newbern assigned attorney Jamal Summey to represent Gell. Judge Newbern also set a probable cause hearing for April 27.

According to Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb, Gell had been under investigation for several months due to his apparent involvement with a 15-year-old girl in his county. That girl, now age 16, is pregnant. However, Sheriff Webb stopped short in saying that Gell was the father.

Sheriff Webb did however explain that the rape charges were issued due to the age discrepancy in this case.

“North Carolina law says if there are more than six years difference in age between two individuals engaged in a sexual relationship, we must charge the older individual with statutory rape, no matter if the younger individual consented to engaging in sexual intercourse,” Webb said.

During a 1998 capital murder case in Bertie County, Gell was sentenced to die for the 1995 death of Allen Ray Jenkins of Aulander.

However, in December of 2003,

Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant threw out Gell’s capital murder conviction and ordered a new trial after an appeals process revealed that prosecutors with the North Carolina State Attorney General’s office, who handled the 1998 trial, did not share critical documents with Gell’s defense team.

The new trial took place in February of 2004 where a Bertie County jury took less than three hours to find Gell not guilty.