LOCKPORT - A Wilson man pleaded not guilty Friday to a 10-count indictment accusing him of a hate crime for allegedly using racial slurs during an assault on an African-American man.
The indictment accuses Gary R. Bell II, 32, of Hamilton Avenue, of assaulting Cornell Ford, 39, of Niagara Falls, with a rock or brick, a tree branch and his feet in Bell's kitchen at about 2:30 a.m. June 23.
According to the original arrest report from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Ford said he had gone four-wheeling with Bell, who is white, and the latter accused Ford of breaking the all-terrain vehicle.
"Ford told patrol he felt this was a racially motivated attack based on the statements made by Bell," Deputy Matthew Grainge wrote. "Ford had multiple lacerations to his lip and cheek, along with abrasions and a contusion to him abdomen."
Bell was arraigned in State Supreme Court on four counts of second-degree assault, two of them charged as hate crimes; two counts of second-degree strangulation, one of which was regarded as a hate crime; one count of attempted second-degree assault; and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Defense attorney George V.C. Muscato said the men were sitting in Bell's kitchen drinking when the altercation broke out. The arrest report makes no mention of weapons, and Muscato said that was new to him. Assistant District Attorney Ryan K. Parisi declined to discuss the evidence.
Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. allowed Bell to remain free on $750 bail originally posted in Wilson Town Court by Bell's father.