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Judge involved in 2019 White Castle shooting drops out of reelection race: Crawford Co. GOP

Sabrina Bell
Posted at 10:28 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 14:57:50-04

CRAWFORD COUNTY — A southern Indiana judge previously mired in controversy has withdrawn from her race for reelection, according to the Crawford County Republican Party.

Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Sabrina Bell — one of three judges involved in a 2019 altercation that led to a shooting outside a downtown Indianapolis White Castle — said in a cryptic Facebook post Tuesday that she will "step away" after an undisclosed incident she was involved in.

Bell's post mentions Crawford County Sheriff Jeff Howell by name and states, "his deputies showed me no favoritism."

She wrote, "They turned in their reports immediately just like they would anything else. It's being handled by outside agencies to avoid conflict of interest just like anything else would be. Please do not blame him for my doing. He did his job."

Bell continued, "There is no conspiracy and nothing to find. Sometimes things are just what they are and people find themselves bored that someone's tragedy was not more exciting. That's the evil in this world. My time will come friends and I will share with you everything. I have nothing to hide and no reason to hold back any longer. I'm looking forward to speaking my truth and being able to heal from it and being free."

The Crawford County Republican Party said in a Facebook post that a special prosecutor has been appointed to a case involving Bell stemming from a recent incident but did not disclose what it had to do with.

"It is our understanding that (Bell) has suspended her campaign," the post states.

The post says the Crawford County Sheriff's Office responded to those incidents — which took place in the past week — and turned its findings over to the Prosecutor's Office, which then turned them over to the special prosecutor. It also says Indiana State Police is investigating the incidents in question.

"All steps have been taken by all involved, Republican and Democrat offices, to make sure this is being handled fairly by outside sources. If you are hearing otherwise, we strongly suggest you look at where the rumors originated. It is sad but all too often politicians take the stance of 'don’t let any disaster go to waste.'" the post reads.

ISP Sgt. David Henderson said he could only confirm the agency is "conducting an investigation in Crawford County involving an elected official," adding that the investigation is ongoing.

WRTV has also reached out to the Crawford County Prosecutor's Office and the Crawford County Sheriff's Office. We have not yet heard back.

Bell was one of three judges who faced discipline charges in connection with a shooting May 1, 2019, at the White Castle at 55 W. South St.

Court documents filed in October 2019 in the Supreme Court detailed what happened that night involving Bell and fellow Crawford County judges Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs.

Just after 3 a.m., court documents say a blue SUV driven with both Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser went by the group of judges outside the White Castle and yelled something at them. Bell then "extended her middle finger to the occupants of the SUV."

Court documents state Vazquez then parked the SUV and went over to where the judges were standing. A heated verbal altercation between the two groups turned into a physical confrontation between the four men and at some point during the encounter both Jacobs and Adams were shot.

Judges Adams and Jacobs were both taken to the hospital where they were treated for their injuries and later released. Detectives later arrested Adams and the two other men involved, Vazquez and Kaiser.

Judge Adams accepted a plea agreement to plead guilty to battery resulting in bodily injury on September 9. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss six additional charges against Adams. He received a suspended sentence of 365 days. Adams has also petitioned to be reinstated to the bench.

On October 11, 2019, the Indiana Commission of Judicial Qualifications filed disciplinary charges against the three judges; Bell, Adams and Jacobs.

Jacobs and Bell were both reinstated to the bench in December of that year after serving 30-day suspensions. Adams was ordered to serve a 60-day suspension.

WRTV Digital Content Producer Katie Cox contributed to this report.