South Whittier man receives death sentence for four murders

NORWALK — A judge Tuesday sentenced a South Whittier man to die for the murders of the greed-motivated murders of three men and a woman in late 2003 and early 2004.
Cimarron Bernard Bell, 37, received the sentence from Norwalk Superior Judge Dewey Falcone. He was convicted in April of the four killings, along with the special allegations that the three men were killed for financial gain, and that he lied in wait before killing them. The jury recommended the death penalty.
His victims included then-girlfriend Ineka Edmondson, 22, of Compton, as well as three men who met him to buy a car: Mario Larios, 23, of West Covina, Edgar Valles, 22, of La Puente and Fernando Pina, 25, of Mexico.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks, said Bell has remained, “completely remorseless” and “a constant threat to the public.”
“These were very egregious murders,” she said. “These were particularly innocent and vulnerable victims.”
Edmondson was killed for both personal and financial reasons, while the three men were killed solely for their money, prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Harriet Hawkins, who defended Bell along with attorney Connie Quinones, declined to comment following the sentencing.
Edmondson’s body was found inside a car Nov. 12, 2003, at a La Habra industrial park where Bell worked at the time, investigators said. She was the only of the four victims who knew Bell prior to being murdered by him.
Bell had been involved in a check-cashing scheme with her when one of their accomplices was arrested and bank account involved was frozen, Hanisee said.
Bell believed that Edmondson had reported the checks stolen and was stealing from him, prosecutors said.
Additionally, officials said, Bell was also worried that his wife would find out about his relationship with Edmondson.
So he summoned Edmondson to meet him in La Habra, near his employer at Morgan Metals, where he greeted her with a kiss, then shot her three times in the head, prosecutors said.
Less than three months later, Bell hatched a murderous plan to make money, Hicks said.
The bodies of Larios, Valles and Pina were discovered Jan. 31 inside a car parked behind a La Mirada shopping center, officials said. Three days prior, they had set out to meet Bell in South Whittier to discuss buying a customized Chevrolet Monte Carlo for $8,500.
Bell, along with an alleged accomplice who is still awaiting trial for the deaths of the three men, then shot and robbed the three men before abandoning their bodies in their Mercedes Benz.
The motive was strictly financial gain, Hicks said.
He’s running low on money, so he lured these three men over, robs them and kills them,” he said.
After receiving his sentence, Hawkins made a motion on Bell’s behalf for the return of property such as a car, jewelry and a computer that have been stored in evidence since his arrest in 2004.
“It’s all he cares about — stuff,” Hicks said.
“(But) he places a very low value on human life,” Hanisee added.
Prior to his arrest for the murders, Hanisee said, Bell solicited a gang member to photograph the prosecutor in an Orange County fraud case against him for the purpose of “making him disappear,” Hanisee said. The gang member did not cooperate with Bell, and no charges were filed against him for that alleged crime.
Hanisee said she was pleased to be able to bring some justice to the four families ripped apart by Bell’s bloodlust.
“To have a loved one die is bad enough. To have a loved one murdered is an injury you don’t recover from,” she said.
Under California law, Bell, like all convicts who receive the death penalty, is entitled to an automatic appeal.
Falcone ordered that Bell be sent to San Quentin Correctional Facility in Marin County pending his to await his sentence and pending his appeal.
Accused partner in the killing of Larios, Valles and Pina, is awaiting his trial for his alleged role in the killings.
Briaell Lee, 29, of Los Angeles is due in Norwalk Superior Court for trial Sept. 16.
– Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

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