Federal Judge Who Presided Over Rare Michigan Death Penalty Trial Dies at 79
Robert Holmes Bell, a federal judge for 30 years whose trials included one that led to a rare death sentence in Michigan, has died. He was 79.
Bell died Thursday, Michelle Benham, the courts chief deputy clerk, said Friday. A cause was not disclosed.
He was one of the giants on the federal bench, said Chris Yates, a judge on the state appeals court who often appeared in Bells courtroom as a defense lawyer.
Bell was a judge in the Lansing area when President Ronald Reagan in 1987 appointed him to the U.S. District Court in western Michigan, based in Grand Rapids. He retired in 2017.
Bell presided over many significant cases, but none was bigger than the 2002 trial of Marvin Gabrion, who was convicted of drowning a woman in a remote lake in a national forest in Newaygo County.