Eure man faces child sex charges

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2006

GATESVILLE – For the second time this week a local man has been arrested on child sex charges.

On Wednesday, James Michael Harris of Eure turned himself in to Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb.

Harris stands charged with 21 total counts of statutory rape, second degree forcible rape and indecent liberties with a child.

According to Sheriff Webb, Harris’ bond was set at $315,000.

Also on Wednesday, a Lewiston-Woodville man was arrested for 31 sexual offenses against a minor.

James Alan Gell, who surrendered on his own accord to Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins, is accused of statutory rape, indecent liberties with a child and second degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

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

The minor is a Gates County teenager, age 15 at the time of the alleged crimes. She is now age 16 and pregnant. Sheriff Webb and Sheriff Atkins are working this case together, one from where they have ordered DNA testing to determine if Gell is the biological father of the unborn child.

This has become an extremely high-profile case due to the fact that Gell made state and national headlines in 2004 after being freed from death row.

He was sentenced to die following a 1998 capital murder case in Bertie County where he was found guilty 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.