Local News

Former Death Row Inmate Charged With Sex, Drug Offenses

Posted April 12, 2006 8:47 a.m. EDT

— For more than two years, Alan Gell has been the poster child for a moratorium against the death penalty. He has spoken all over the state about how the justice system failed and almost cost him his life.

But now, Gell is back in jail, this time charged with drug and sex offenses. His critics are raising questions about whether he should have been on the street at all.

Gell, 31, is back in police custody on a $322,000 bond. Gell turned himself in Wednesday and is now charged with 31 sex offenses, including statutory rape and indecent liberties with a minor, plus cocaine possession. A search warrant reveals that the charges stem from a relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

"In a case like this, it looks like something ran amok," said Rep. Rick Eddins, R-Wake.

Gell was released from Death Row after nine years in prison on murder charges after it was discovered that prosecutors withheld evidence in his original trial. But some say the new charges make them question if that was the correct decision.

"I won't rush to judgment," said Eddins. "But that sends up red flags and will alarm people a lot about his past."

"One has nothing to do with the other, and remember in this case he is innocent until proven guilty," said defense attorney Logan Howell.

Defense attorneys say the latest charges involve a completely separate case and should not negate what happened to Gell in the murder trial.

"This should not be an excuse in any way the disdain we have for the prosecutors witholding evidence in his other case," said Howell.

According to a search warrant, the alleged victim in this case is now 16 years old and may be pregnant with Gell's child. It does not appear that he will be able to make bond. Prosecutors intend to take the case to a grand jury for indictment.