Police testimony: DNA matches murder suspects

Cordiary Bell (in front) & Daniel Wright (rear)
Cordiary Bell (in front) & Daniel Wright (rear)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Columbus police are revealing how they've tied an alleged criminal duo to one of the city's labor day killings.

The suspects appeared in court for the first time Thursday since they were charged in the case earlier this week.

The murder of 33-year-old Brian Brown at an apartment complex downtown was the first in a string of killings over this past Labor Day weekend.

Four people lost their lives in five days and Brown's case was the only one that had not been cleared.

Late Tuesday, Columbus homicide detectives charged 23-year-old Cordiary Bell and 30-year-old Daniel Wright with Brown's murder after months of investigating.

During their preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon, Bell and Wright pleaded not guilty. They were represented by a public defender.

In court, investigators told the judge the duo went to the Johnston Mill Lofts on September 3rd, 2010 to rob Brown, who detectives call a known drug dealer, and ended up shooting him through the door of his apartment, the bullet hitting him in the head.

According to police testimony, Brown was known to sell drugs and carry large sums of money.

Police say Bell and Wright had gone to the complex the day before to case out the area and plan out their robbery.

Witnesses allegedly tell officers Brown was confronted by two gunmen at the door of his apartment who demanded money. He closed the door and the men started shooting through it. Investigators say he was shot in the head and was hit with shrapnel from another bullet.

Bell tells detectives that they confronted Brown and there was an altercation and when he was looking away in another direction, Wright started firing through the door. Wright, meanwhile, does not admit to being present at the complex at the time of the shooting.

According to detectives, information from confidential informants lead them to Bell and Wright and evidence came when they discovered that a revolver and pistol had been found at a house two blocks away from the scene of the murder. Investigators told the judge DNA evidence from the weapons is a match to both men.

Officers testified $9100 in cash was found inside Brown's apartment after he was killed.

"My son was a human being no matter what and he has children and he has a family and we all love him and we're going to miss him. I thank the community for what everyone has done for us. But those guys, may they reap what they have sown. I want justice served. I want them to pay for what they've done," Brown's mother, Deborah, said after Thursday's preliminary hearing.

Police say Cordiary Bell and Daniel Wright are convicted felons in the local judicial circuit. Wright, they say, was convicted of armed robbery and Bell was convicted of criminal damage to property. Both men were already in jail when they were charged with Brown's murder. They also face weapons violations in the case.

A judge ordered them held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond and their case is headed to Superior Court.

Police say Bell was charged in a shooting on December 4th on Baltic Court and in an armed robbery on November 30th on Chalbena Avenue. In that case, officials say a woman came home and found her door open. When she went inside, a gunman waiting for her held her at gunpoint and stole her car. That same car and Bell, according to detectives, were involved in a police chase into Harris County shortly after the robbery.

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