BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A warrant filed Monday, July 15, shows investigators wanted samples of hair from Ronn Jermaine Bell Sr., the man accused of strangling Baton Rouge icon, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, before allegedly abandoning her body in the trunk of a car, after finding small black fibers on bleach bottles in Bell’s home.
Documents filed Friday, July 19 show attorneys representing Bell argued he was arrested Monday, July 15 for failing to comply with requirements related to his sex offender status. During that arrest, Bell was allegedly questioned about Roberts-Joseph’s death, was photographed, and had “chunks” of hair seized from two places on his head. Attorneys claim those chunks of hair were snatched from Bell’s head without consent to falsely link him to the crime scene.
"He was swabbed for DNA after law enforcement seized chunks of [Bell’s] hair. The DNA in his saliva and his hair will be the same DNA. Law enforcement seized his hair before they executed the affidavit for the arrest warrant. For what purpose would law enforcement need chunks of his hair, prior to executing the search warrant? For what purpose would law enforcement need hair and then saliva, in that order? Saliva alone would be sufficient to compare any and all DNA that allegedly was found. However, the seizure of chunks of his hair in the possession of ‘bad actors’ exposes him to a prejudice that he may be unable to recover from and unduly prejudiced by, especially if the hair that was seized from his head by law enforcement on Monday, July 15, 2019 is the hair that was referenced in the arrest warrant affidavit (from July 16, 2019) as being “found on the deceased,” Bell’s attorneys wrote in the filing.
The arrest warrant goes on to read that Roberts-Joseph’s body was placed in the trunk before having bleach poured onto it. During Roberts-Joseph’s autopsy, black fibers were found on two empty bleach bottles in Bell’s home, while investigators were arresting him for unrelated sex crime charges.
Bell’s sex offender charges stem from a 2004 case involving the rape of an 8-year-old girl. Bell pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexual battery under best interest of the victim and her family. He served the entire sentence, so he was not under probation, but still has to follow certain guidelines as a sex offender. He was released from prison April 12, 2013.
Attorneys representing Bell further argued a durag was illegally seized Thursday, July 18, and that leaders at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison have delayed their attempts to bring electronic devices into the prison so they can film the areas on Bell’s head where hair was taken.
Roberts-Joseph was discovered in the trunk of a car at roughly 3:45 p.m. on July 12. The car was located about three and a half miles away from her home.
Investigators learned Bell was a tenant in one of Roberts-Joseph’s rental homes. They suspect he was behind several months on his rent and that he owed abut $1,200, department officials announced in a press conference Tuesday, July 16. According to the arrest report, Bell admitted to being behind on rent payments and said he and Roberts-Joseph has agreed he could stay at the home he was renting as long as he paid some money to her. He also reportedly admitted to being in the same area where the victim’s car was found at the time the vehicle was abandoned, which was confirmed with video surveillance, the report notes.