GREENBELT, Md. - Jesse Lee Bell, age 39, of Randallstown, Maryland pleaded guilty today to assaulting a federal officer.
According to his plea agreement, on August 27, 2011, at 3:13 a.m. Bell was pulled over by a U.S. Park Police officer on the Baltimore Washington Parkway, after the officer saw Bell's pick-up truck drift out of its lane, straddle the lane marking, and then jerk back into its lane.
The officer smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the car as he stood next to the driver's window. In response to the officer's questions, Bell stated that he had a beer hours earlier, but said there was no alcohol or drugs in the truck. The officer ordered Bell to get out of his truck to perform field sobriety tests. Bell became nervous, did not get out of the truck, and ignored the officer's repeated commands to unlock the door.
As the officer was reaching in through the open window to unlock the door, Bell drove onto the highway, with the officer's arm still inside the truck. The truck struck the officer, who spun around and fell to the ground, partially in the right lane of the highway. The officer saw cars coming toward him at highway speeds, but the drivers were able to swerve into the left lane to avoid striking the officer. The officer turned around and saw Bell driving northbound on the highway with his headlights turned off. The officer and a backup followed Bell, who eventually pulled onto the shoulder of the road again. The officers got the defendant out of the truck and arrested him.
Bell faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte scheduled sentencing for January 18, 2013.