Rickey Earl Taylor Jr.

Man pleads guilty, but mentally ill, to 2016 Cobb beating death

A man has entered a guilty plea in the July 2016 beating death of a man found tied up inside his Marietta apartment.

Rickey Earl Taylor, 31, pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to charges of murder, false imprisonment, robbery by force and aggravated assault in the death of Richard Olen Bell. Taylor was sentenced by Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Police conducting a welfare check found Bell’s body July 8, 2016, on his bed inside his apartment on Windcliff Drive in Marietta. Prosecutors say the victim’s wrists and ankles were tied behind his back, and he suffered blunt force trauma to his head. An autopsy indicated Bell may have been killed as early as July 2, DA’s office added. 

Prosecutors said police identified Taylor as a suspect, as cell phone records show he and Bell exchanged roughly 50 calls and text messages on the date the victim was killed. A DNA profile lifted from the bindings used to tie Bell up matched Taylor through the Combined DNA Index System, the District Attorney’s Office said. 

READSuspect in Gwinnett torture case charged with murder in Cobb

Bell’s cousin told the court Friday that the 59-year-old Rich’s Department store retiree and antiques dealer was “always the life of the party,” particularly at his 50th birthday party he hosted at a hotel in Atlanta. 

“Friends flew into Atlanta from states far and wide,” Donna Bryan said. “He held forth from the podium with funny stories about each of his guests, from the times he had spent with them, dating back to his childhood. By the end of the evening we all had tears streaming down our faces and sat holding our sides from all the laughter Richard had brought to the occasion.”

Richard Bell was found dead inside his apartment on July 8, 2016. Rickey Earl Taylor, Jr. pleaded guilty to his beating death, and was sentenced to live in prison without parole. Credit: Cobb County District Attorney's Office

Taylor is also the man Gwinnett County police have charged with the double homicide of 61-year-old Nicola Sramek and her son James Sramek, 26. Police in that jurisdiction say the victims were stabbed and beaten

READ | Man indicted in Cobb beating death faces new charges

Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said Taylor is “one of the most sadistic criminals I’ve prosecuted during my career.” He also said Taylor showcased a level of depravity that is “virtually unspeakable.” 

“I am extremely grateful for Cobb Police and our Gwinnett County law enforcement partners for their tireless efforts that allowed us to successfully prosecute Taylor and obtain the maximum sentence, ensuring that he will never be able to prey on the public again,” Evans said in a press release. 

The Cobb District Attorney’s Office said Taylor is expected to go to trial next month in the double homicide in Gwinnett. Those prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if Taylor is convicted. 

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