Charles man pleads guilty to father’s murder

Carlton Vernon Bell Jr.

La Plata, MD – A man who told police he used drugs and then killed his father pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Charles County Circuit Court Monday, March 12. The defendant, Carlton Vernon Bell Jr., 23 of Waldorf, entered the plea before Judge Amy Bragunier.

According to documents on file in the Maryland court system, during the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2017, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call from Lurleen Lynette Bell, who told police her son Carlton Jr. had just been in a motor vehicle crash and had been taken to shock trauma. “She stated her son and his father had gotten into a verbal disagreement before the son got into the accident,” court documents stated. Police went to the residence on Topsmelt Court in Waldorf to check on the welfare of Carlton Vernon Bell Sr. Two sheriff’s officers entered the home, finding it in disarray, with broken glass, blood and signs of a struggle. Carlton Bell Sr.’s body was discovered in an upstairs bathroom. A screwdriver was found lodged in his head.

Detectives interviewed Carlton Bell Jr. with his consent at Baltimore Shock Trauma. “He stated to the detectives that he had been using drugs and felt like he needed to kill someone,” court documents stated. “He stated he located his father inside the residence and cut him with a knife. He advised he then killed his father by using a hammer to drive a screwdriver into his father’s head. He told detectives he stayed in the house for several hours. The defendant stated he left the house looking for someone else to kill. He eventually decided to kill himself by crashing his vehicle into a ravine.”

The crash occurred shortly after 1 p.m. in the area of Route 301 and Mitchell Road. Carlton Bell Jr. fled the scene of the crash on foot but was caught by police a short time later. Due to his injuries he was flown to shock trauma.

Bell’s attorney, William C. Brennan Jr. noted his client had originally pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity due to his state of mind at the time the crime was committed. That plea was withdrawn. First-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Assistant State’s Attorney John A. Stackhouse represented the state during hearing.
Bragunier ordered a pre-sentencing investigation. Sentencing was tentatively set for May 15.

Contact Marty Madden at

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