ACA.supremecourt.070419

A Central man won't face charges for allegedly killing a passenger in a car in a bizarre fatal shooting that occurred during a domestic dispute in which he was not involved, a grand jury decided Thursday.

The panel declined to indict Lil Norman Bell, 27, on either a first-degree murder or manslaughter charge in the June slaying of Eldres Mills, 19.

East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Tracey Barbera said the case was thoroughly investigated by law enforcement "and all of the facts and circumstances were presented to the grand jury for their consideration."

The June 7 incident, in the 14600 block of Central Woods Road off Sullivan Road, began when Gregory Taplin started fighting with his girlfriend, Timyra Scott, causing an injury to her lip, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said. Scott went inside her house and returned with a handgun, then opened fire on the vehicle Taplin was riding in. Mills also was in the vehicle.

The car left but returned soon thereafter. A witness reported seeing someone start shooting at Scott's house from the front passenger seat, which is where Taplin was sitting, according to deputies. There were three people inside the house at the time.

Bell, one of Scott's neighbors, told police he fired his gun toward the ground in the direction of the vehicle in an attempt to scare away the suspects and get them to stop shooting at each other. But officials said the bullet recovered from Mills' body matched Bell's gun.

Bell's attorney, Steven Moore, said Bell and his family are very grateful for the hard work and thorough probe by the police and District Attorney's Office.

"We knew that once all the facts were presented to the Grand Jury that justice would prevail. It is a shame that a young man lost his life, and we pray for his family and loved ones," Moore, who is District Attorney Hillar Moore's brother, said in a written statement.

Barbera said the District Attorney's Office understands that some individuals, particularly Mills' family members, will struggle to accept the grand jury's decision in the tragic case. But she said the panel reviewed all of the evidence.

Deputies initially believed a shot from Scott's gun had struck Mills, who was riding in the same vehicle as Taplin, her boyfriend.

Mills was pronounced dead on June 11 after the shooting left him hospitalized in critical condition, the Sheriff's Office said.

Taplin, who also was accused of throwing a handgun out of the vehicle on the way to the hospital and calling his girlfriend to tell her to pick up shell casings from the scene, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of illegal carrying of weapons. He was given a suspended six-month prison term and put on probation for the same amount of time.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.