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Birth: Nov. 5, 1941, USA
Death: Jan. 23, 1993 Tulsa County Oklahoma, USA
David Lloyd Bell graduated from high school in Hobbs, NM. He attended the University of Iowa where he graduated from pre-med in 1964 & completed his medical education at University of Iowa Medical School. From there he went to Dallas where he served his residency in orthopedic surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital. After his residency he joined the Air Force & served a two year tour as “Captain David Bell” in the hospital at Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas. After getting out of the Air Force, he pursued specialized training in surgery of the hand & arm & became certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.
David married Barbara Lynn Easterly in Dallas, TX, on June 10, 1970. They had two children, Carter & Erin. Like his father, he was murdered, not by strangers, but by his wife. At the time of his death David, age 51, & Barbara were living in Tulsa. He was at the peak of his career & was highly admired by co-workers, acquaintances, & relatives.
In 1993, David and Barbara, & their two children lived at 3407 E. 66th St. in Tulsa. From all appearances, they had a model life & were well respected in the community. David was enjoying a successful career after many years of work. He & Barbara were active socially & were involved in the Tulsa Ballet Theatre. They participated in many fund raisers in the community, two of which were the Tulsa Opera & the Tulsa Mental Health Association.
They were entertaining company on the fatal evening, Friday, January 22, 1993, when David answered a page & told Barbara that he had to go to the hospital. Later that evening she tried to contact him, checking the two hospitals where he worked, & the pager company. Unable to locate him, she was convinced he had lied about where he had gone. It was never clear where he had actually gone. Rumors were circulating at the hospital that he was involved with one of the nurses working with him.
David arrived home shortly before 10:30 p.m. & found Barbara waiting for him with their 9mm handgun. They argued, & she shot him in the forehead from a distance of five feet. He collapsed on the garage steps leading into the utility room, & she called the paramedics, telling them that she had shot her husband. He was still breathing when they arrived, & he was rushed to St. Francis Hospital, where he worked. Dr. Harry Livingston, who had hired him in 1974, was called to his bedside, arriving shortly before he died at 12:25 a.m. Barbara was booked into the Tulsa jail about 3:30 a.m. and was charged with second-degree murder. She was released on bail about nine hours later.
During 1993 Newspaper articles, published in The Tulsa World, provided a bird’s-eye view into David and Barbara’s life, his career and murder, & the ensuing trial.
Barbara was tried & convicted of second-degree murder by a jury and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She served two years in prison before the State Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction in 1995. They ordered a new trial based on a “presumed guilty” instruction routinely offered by the trial judge. The State sought a retrial of the matter, & a law firm was retained to defend her at the second trial. Before the trial was to begin, the State offered a plea, which Barbara accepted & entered an Alford plea. She plead to first-degree manslaughter & was sentenced by the Judge to an 18-year prison term, giving her credit for 4½ years of time already served. The Judge ordered the remainder of the sentence, 13½ years, to be served as unsupervised probation.
David’s Obituary David’s obituary was published in The Tulsa World on Tuesday, January 26, 1993: “Bell – David Lloyd, M.D., 51, Tulsa, died January 23, 1993. A partner with Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa. He was reared in Hobbs, NM, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Iowa in 1964. Completed his medical education at University of Iowa Medial School and orthopedic residency, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, TX.
He served 2 years in the U.S. Air Force, Blytheville, AR. He acquired special training in surgery of the hand and upper extremity; was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery with additional qualifications in Surgery of the Hand. He joined Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa in 1974. He practiced at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and Broken Arrow Medical Center. He was a Clinical Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma Tulsa Medical College. He was active in Tulsa County Medical Society, American Medical Association for Surgery of the Hand and the faculty of the American College of Surgeons, Advanced Trauma Life Support.
Barbara and David Bell were married in 1970 in Dallas, TX. Survived by wife, Barbara; son, Carter; daughter, Erin, all of Tulsa; brother, Dr. John Bell, Bend, OR. Memorial service 10 a.m. Tuesday, January 26, 1993, St. John Episcopal Church. Private grave side service Calvary Cemetery. Friends may contribute to Parent-Child Center of Tulsa . . . in his memory. The Fitzgerald Funeral Service.”
3 November 1993
FINAL HOME EDITION
Barbara Bell’s attorneys on Tuesday urged a Tulsa judge to follow a pre-sentencing report recommending most of a 20 year-sentence be suspended.
Bell was convicted Sept. 30 of second-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband, orthopedic surgeon David Bell. She will be sentenced Wednesday by District Judge Clifford Hopper.
A filing Tuesday by attorneys Allen Smallwood and Patrick A. Williams states they have no objection to the report, prepared by the Department of Corrections.
Attorneys urged Hopper to follow the report’s “recommendation of suspending the majority of the sentence imposed, and placing Mrs. Bell on probation for most of that term.”
The report, prepared to aid Hopper in setting punishment, was unavailable and might not be released publicly.
The defense pleading included information from a doctor who treated Mrs. Bell for several years showing she took prescription drugs, including the controversial antidepressant Prozac.
In late 1992, she was prescribed another antidepressant, Zoloft, which she was taking at the time of the Jan. 21 shooting.
Mrs. Bell also took, on a needed basis, headache medication, a sleep aid and antihistamines.
The defense took issue with information supplied for the report by the victim’s brother, John Bell, an emergency room physician in Oregon.
“The defendant categorically denies that she ever said she is the `Leona Helmsley of Tulsa.’
“The most spurious allegation made by John Bell is that the defendant has obtained indirectly over $5 million as a result of David Bell’s death.
“The truth, of course, is that his death cost her about $5 million, which once again flies directly in the face of the defendant possessing any financial motive to cause her husband’s death and can be documented by agreements reflecting the entire proceeds from insurance premiums have gone directly to her children, not her.”
Attorneys claim John Bell chose to conceal the fact that he and his brother had not spoken for 25 years and only united in 1991 because of the urging of David Bell’s son, Carter.
“Most, if not all of the communication between John Bell and his brother was accomplished through Mrs. Bell, not through David Lloyd Bell.
“The allegation Mrs. Bell thrives on preferential treatment, has a litany of lawsuits and runs off bill collectors with a burglar alarm is utterly unsubstantiated and flies directly in the face of the financial condition of the Bell family,” the pleading states.