SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Lastarandre Bell was back in court Thursday as the second trial in the death of a Springfield woman continued.
Bell’s first murder conviction for the death of Julie Ann Nieves was overturned last year.
The second trial for Bell began it’s first full day at Hampden County Superior Court Friday and even before testimony began, there was a shakeup in the jury box.
A juror was dismissed after it came to light that he had earlier applied for an internship in the D.A.’s office.
District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said as soon as he learned of the potential conflict, he alerted the judge and Bell’s lawyers.
First on the stand was the daughter of Julie Ann Nieves, who died after being set on fire after a dispute in her Warner Street home back in 2007
“She was the most loving generous caring honest person you could ever meet. She was full of life. Always enjoyed being with her kids and family and I do miss her a lot…we all do,” says Nieves’ nephew Elliot Cruz.
Bell, the ex boyfriend of the victim’s daughter, was convicted of first degree murder in 2008, but that conviction was overturned three years later based on improper jury instructions.
Cruz and other family members were present as the heart wrenching testimony was front and center.
“It’s very difficult for us to sit down and listen to testimony and relive everything all over again. It’s difficult for the families even more difficult for my grandmother at this time,” Cruz adds.
Defense lawyers argue that it was Neives who poured gasoline on Bell, who was smoking a cigarette at the time.
Mastroianni spent the morning detailing the timeline of events on the fateful January day nearly six years ago.
The Nieves family keeping the faith that the jurors will come to the right decision
“I have confidence with the D.A. and the new team that took over the case and justice will prevail again.”
Bell remains in prison serving a 20 to 25 year sentence for home invasion in the death of Nieves.