March 15, 2023

Slidell Man Found Guilty of Second-Degree Battery in a 10 Minute Jury Deliberation and will be Sentenced as a Multiple Offender

District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on March 15, 2023 a St. Tammany Parish jury, found Christopher “Winky” Bell Jr., 36, of Slidell, guilty of Second-Degree Battery.

On May 27, 2019, officers responded to a disturbance in a holding cell at the St. Tammany Parish jail. Upon arrival on the scene, officers observed the victim breathing heavily with bleeding wounds on his face. He reported that he was attacked by the defendant while he was asleep on the holding cell floor. Both inmates were taken to the jail medical department for evaluation. The victim could not move his mouth without severe pain and was transported to the hospital. There, the victim was diagnosed with a broken jaw and surgery was performed a few days later.

Officers reviewed video from the jail’s surveillance system and determined that the defendant was the aggressor and struck the victim without justification. The video showed that, while the victim was laying on the floor sleeping, the victim adjusted his blanket and when the blanket touched the defendant, he stood over the victim and began to attack him.

Hours prior to this incident, the defendant had been arrested and transported to the jail by the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Department on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and obstruction of justice. In November, 2021, the defendant was tried and convicted on those charges and sentenced on Monday, March 13, 2023, by Judge Vincent J. Lobello to 50 years in prison.

Bell has multiple prior convictions that include aggravated battery, illegal possession of stolen things, possession of cocaine and aggravated criminal damage to property.

During trial, the State presented testimony from the victim who testified that he suffered severe pain, had surgery to wire his jaw shut, could not eat solid food for months, suffered infections and had to have several teeth removed. The State was able to show jail video footage of this incident as well as two more jail videos of additional incidents where Bell played a role in assaulting other inmates and caused serious harm. The victim’s attending physician from University Medical Center testified as an expert in Emergency Medicine and stated that he observed the surveillance video and that the injury to the victim was consistent with the actions and force employed by the defendant.

In closing, Assistant District Attorney Taylor Nicholson said, “The defendant can’t fight a fair fight!” Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Dover said in her closing argument that “the defendant is a bully who seeks out these fights and accomplishes his goal.”

A 6-person jury deliberated for 10 minutes before handing down the guilty verdict.

The charge of Second-Degree Battery usually carries a sentence of up to 8 years.  However, due to the number of prior convictions for crimes of violence, the defendant is facing a life sentence under the Habitual Offender Statute when he is sentenced by District Judge Vincent Lobello.

The case was tried by Assistant District Attorneys Tiffany Dover and Taylor Nicholson.