D.A. won't charge neighbors for attacking accused kidnapper
The story behind David Bell's kidnapping case varies dramatically depending on who tells it.
In one version, the South Salt Lake man stole into his neighbor's house early July 4 and removed two sleeping children, who later were found crying in his bedroom.
That's the version ascribed to by prosecutors, who charged Bell with burglary and two counts of first-degree felony child kidnapping.
But members of Bell's family -- who said he is gay -- claim he took the children in when they could not sleep because of an all-night party at their own house.
No one, however, disputes that following discovery of the children at Bell's home, near 400 East and Maxwell Lane (2890 South), several adults, including the children's father, broke in and severely beat Bell.
Bell's attorney, Roger Kraft, said events at that point "escalated into a hate crime." Kraft said Bell's assailants assumed that "because a person's gay, he's also a pedophile."
But the mother of one child, Lulu Latu, said Thursday that Bell's sexual preference was not a factor. She said the beating was sparked by anger and fear for the safety of the 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl.
"Imagine walking into your house and not being able to find your kids, then you find them in someone else's bedroom," Latu said.
Bell, 30, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail, where he is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 21 in 3rd District Court.
But the parents of the children have not been charged for allegedly assaulting Bell. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday there was "insufficient evidence" to file felony counts. South Salt Lake prosecutors are now screening for possible misdemeanor charges.
Bell's attorney said Latu had returned the children to their home by the time three to five adult neighbors kicked down Bell's door, broke his windows and assaulted Bell and his boyfriend.
Bell claimed the neighbors used the broken glass from his windows to cut his throat and his foot, according to Kraft. One toe was cut so deeply that Bell believes the intent was to sever it, Kraft said. Someone also grabbed him by the hair and swung his head onto the sidewalk, and Bell no longer can hear in his right ear, Kraft said.
Bell's partner, Dan Fair, was attacked just as brutally, Kraft said. At one point, someone lifted a large TV and threw it onto Fair's head, Kraft said.
"I know it's not right," Latu said Thursday of the violence. "But what if I hadn't caught it in time? It could have been a child-murder case, instead."
Bell's uncle, Joe Taylor, said it doesn't make sense that Bell - who had been partying at the children's home from about 2 a.m. to dawn - would turn kidnapper.
"It doesn't add up," Taylor said. "Kidnapping when you got a bunch of people in both houses? When you're right next door? What's that?"