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Bellah bound over on multiple felony charges

WALSENBURG — Following a two-hour preliminary hearing that saw three witnesses testify, Russell Bellah of Walsenburg was bound over for trial on a number of felony charges including attempt to commit first degree murder of two police officers. The preliminary hearing was held Wednesday, December 23 before Third Judicial District Judge Claude Appel. District Attorney Frank Ruybalid appeared for the state and Bellah was represented by state public defender Patrick McCarville. Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen, WPD Captain Vince Suarez and Huerfano County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Ray Walsh were called to testify by the prosecution. McLallen and Suarez were questioned about the day of the incident, July 22, and their response to a disturbance call in the 500 block of W 11th Street. Both officers testified they responded to the area and met with the victim, Rose Marie Bellah, the victim’s 73-year old mother, in her car a short distance from her home. They testified they followed her car into the driveway and both officers said they heard a “pop”. Both testified they saw the defendant on the porch of the home holding a long gun, that turned out to be a .22 rifle. When the pump action firearm was

later taken into evidence, it still had one fired shell casing in the chamber. The city officers testified to struggling with, and using their tasers on the defendant before they were able to take him into custody. McLallen testified the victim told him she and her son had been in a verbal argument that turned physical. McLallen said the victim told him her son pushed her against a vehicle at the residence several times, threw a flowerpot at her that crashed into the side of the vehicle, and struck her seven or eight times with an open hand. The officers testified the defendant was holding the rifle in their general direction and at one time held it vertically, resting it on his shoulder pointing skyward until he eventually leaned it against the doorframe of the house. Defense cross examination brought out the fact neither officer saw the defendant shoot at them and that no spent bullet was ever recovered from the scene. HCSO Cpl. Walsh was called to testify regarding an alleged death threat the defendant made against McLallen and Suarez while he was at a hospital appointment at SPRHC on December 3, 2015. Walsh testified Bellah said he was angry at McLallen and Suarez because they had beat him in front of his family and he was going to contact someone in the Sinaloa drug cartel to take care of both officers and their families. Revelation of the alleged threat caused the preliminary hearing to be rescheduled from December 14 until the 23rd. The court found probable cause to bind the defendant over for trial on the felony charges; two counts of attempt to commit first degree murder; two counts of attempt to commit first degree assault (both class 2 felonies); two counts of second degree assault (class 4 felonies); possession of a weapon by a previous offender (class 5 felony) and third degree assault of an at-risk victim (class 6 felony). Bellah faces 15 total charges including misdemeanors. McCarville waived formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on behalf of his client. A motions hearing in the case was set for 1:30 pm March 31, 2016; a status conference for 8:30 am May 9, 2016 and a five-day jury trial was set to begin with jury selection at 8:30 am May, 23, 2016. Bellah was remanded to the custody of the county jail where he is being held in lieu of a $100,000 c/s bond