A state prosecutor dismissed all criminal charges against former City Council President Lawrence Bell III April 7 after the woman plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence. Shan Mabry had alleged Bell, 49, burglarized her home, stole prescription sunglasses worth $700, harassed and repeatedly stalked her over several months in 2010.

Mabry, who claimed she dated Bell for over 20 years, had requested a peace order against the former politician last month. A circuit court judge denied the order, asserting that Mabry “could not meet the required burden of proof” on Bell’s wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office said prosecutors had decided to throw out the criminal case for that same reason. “We investigate and where appropriate, we prosecute,” said spokesman Mark Cheshire. “We spoke with her and concluded that we could not successfully prosecute in this case.”

Mabry did not appear in court April 7. At a previous hearing for the peace order, she refused to comment when approached by the AFRO, but told the judge she was “in fear of (her) life.”

After the prosecutor announced the charges were dropped, Bell told the AFRO that the city’s court system should be overhauled to prevent persons from submitting “frivolous claims.”

“I do believe that it is too easy for people to file complaints,” he said.

His attorney Michael Mitchell said, “One can tell by reading the statement of charges that has an emotional illness.” Bell and his second attorney, who handled the peace order case, have also contended that Mabry should seek psychiatric help due to her “off-the-wall” allegations.

In a three-and-a-half-page criminal complaint, Mabry alleged Bell destroyed security cameras that recorded him breaking into her home, cyber-stalked her, tapped into her phone conversations, took showers in her bathroom and watered down her shower gels and broke into her car “to take things just to torture .”

Mitchell said he is considering suing Mabry for malicious prosecution and emotional distress for the several months of hearings that resulted from her assertions. When asked why Mabry would have targeted Bell, a woman he claims is just an acquaintance, Mitchell said he wasn’t sure. “My mother always says when you start trying to rationalize what crazy people do and why they do it, it’s futile,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

He is working to have the criminal case expunged, an effort that would essentially erase the allegations from Bell’s records.

Bell said it’s “hard to say” whether the charges have smeared his image. “In personal matters, people make outrageous claims,” he said. “It would be my hope that people believe in the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but it remains to be seen.”

Bell headed the City Council for 12 years until launching an unsuccessful mayoral bid against political friend Martin O’Malley in 1999. He later dropped out of the city’s political scene to host a radio show in Atlanta before resurfacing in Baltimore in 2006 for a state Senate race eventually won by Catherine Pugh.

 

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO