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Bernard Bell sentenced to 30 years in prison

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 4:21 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 4:38 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Bernard Bell is sentenced to 30 years in prison, after pleading “no contest” to the death four years ago of a Wood County woman.

Dominique Higgins’ body was found at her apartment in the Abby Village complex on route 47 in early May of 2017.

Bell was arrested two years later, and indicted for murder, robbery and grand larceny.

Bell’s no contest plea Thursday was to second-degree murder.

While no specific motive was mentioned for her death, it was discussed in court that Higgins and the victim knew each other.

Her father, Rick Jones, gave a long statement in court, detailing the personal suffering Higgins’ family and children have gone through since her death.

Bell initially had no statement of his own, but responded to Jones’ remarks, suggesting Higgins’ issues were the fault of parenting. That comment made Jones visibly upset.

Judge Jason Wharton called the incident “a brutal murder”, but in his sentencing left the matter of restitution to Higgins’ family to determine. Family members have 30 days to present a restitution request to the court.

Bell’s trial was one of several delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic that was scheduled to take place in the next several months.

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