NEW BRITAIN — A Connecticut woman accused of fatally shooting her daughter and wounding one of her other children was twice hospitalized for mental health issues that her husband said were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an affidavit of probable cause released Monday.
Naomi Bell, a 43-year-old Terryville resident who grew up in Seymour, remained silent during a video conference appearance Monday in New Britain Judicial District Court.
Bell faces charges of murder with special circumstances and criminal attempt to commit murder with special circumstances. Bell remains in custody after a judge on Monday upheld her $2.5 million bond.
Jassette Henry, Bell’s public defender appointed Monday morning, said her client recently had two “psychiatric episodes” that required her to be hospitalized for more than two weeks.
“Prior to that, my client had no further criminal involvement … so it’s very clear that my client is experiencing her first psychosis experience,” Henry said.
According to an affidavit of probable cause for the arrest, Owen Bell said his wife became depressed after her sister died in 2013. He said his wife became “extremely depressed” when the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year.
Bell said his wife told him, “Homeland Security was circling the house and would come take her and the kids if she said she surrendered,” according to the affidavit.
Naomi Bell had been prescribed anti-psychotic medications, her husband told police, but he was concerned she wasn’t taking them, the affidavit said.
Up until a few months ago, Naomi Bell had been a substitute teacher in a local school district, where she taught for a year and a half, according to her attorney. Bell was previously a molecular biology associate who worked in a research lab for seven years, her attorney said.
Henry — who requested that the judge reduce her client’s bail to $500,000 — said Bell is not a flight risk and has lived in Connecticut her entire life.
“She does have strong family ties,” Henry said.
Henry pointed to Bell’s family living in the area and the fact that she graduated from the University of Hartford and Seymour High School as evidence she is not a flight risk.
State prosecutors asked that Bell’s bond remain at $2.5 million, noting that she faces the possibility of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
Judge Tammy D. Geathers ordered the bond to remain at $2.5 million.
A probable cause hearing was scheduled for Jan. 12.
Bell was ordered to surrender any firearms and ammunition as part of protective orders against three individuals who were referred to only by their initials during the court proceeding.
Henry asked that Bell be allowed on-demand mental health attention with medication.
She said Bell is also invoking her Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights not to speak to law enforcement regarding the incident.
Connecticut State Police said the charges stemmed from a shooting around 7 p.m. Friday at Bell’s Plymouth home.
Police said officers responded to a North Main Street residence for a report of a disturbance. When officers arrived, police said they found two juveniles in the home with serious injuries.
A 15-year-old was fatally wounded, while the 7-year-old was in critical condition, police said. State police said Monday the 7-year-old remained at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, but they did not have an update on the child’s condition.
Owen Bell said he had taken the couple’s third child to a basketball game when called home and heard “horrible screaming” coming from his daughter, the affidavit said.
The man said he called 911 and arrived home before police got there. He said he found his wife with a gun in her hands, according to the affidavit.
Owen Bell told police that he owned multiple guns, keeping them in a locked cabinet, the affidavit said.
Naomi Bell later admitted to police that she shot the two children, the affidavit states.
More than 250 people attended a virtual vigil Sunday for the children and those impacted by the violence.
Several memorials have been set up in the small Litchfield County community, including one in front of the two-story North Main Street home that the Bells purchased in 2003.