Man pleads guilty to killing Somerset woman in church during "psychotic outburst"

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PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Dwight Bell admitted to killing Carolyn New.

Bell pleaded guilty to murder and robbery in Pulaski Circuit Court on Monday.

Bell told the court doctors diagnosed him with psychological problems during a previous prison stint but that he is in his right mind now and able to make a plea. He also stated he killed Carolyn New in a “psychotic outburst.”

“I took the life of Ruthie Carolyn New, by cutting her throat. And I took her purse and her car. I left and took off,” Bell said in court.

The pastor of Denham Street Baptist Church found New's body on August 24.

Bell was homeless and went to the church asking for food. When New returned with food, Bell killed her.

Investigators say Bell left in New's car, stopping in Lexington before eventually driving to Indianapolis and ditching the car.

Police in Dandridge, Tennessee, which is east of Knoxville, arrested Bell on September 12.

During a hearing last month, Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery said he would seek the death penalty in the case, but death penalties are rare in Kentucky. With Bell's guilty plea, prosecutors are now recommending Bell serve life in prison without parole.

"Kentucky has only executed 3 people since 1976. Two of those asked for it, only one person has actually gone through the system," said Montgomery.

Bell asked the judge to go ahead and sentence him during the hearing on Monday, but he wanted the family to be in attendance. The judge went into recess so that prosecutors could reach out to the family to ask them to come to court. However, New's family members said they could not get to court on Monday and requested the judge set the sentencing for a later date. The judge announced he would formally sentence Bell on Thursday at 1 p.m.

Orginal Story
Somerset police charged Dwight Bell with murder and robbery in the death of a Somerset woman. They said he has confessed to the crimes.

Police captured Dwight Bell near Dandridge, Tennessee. Carolyn New was found dead at an activity center at her church, Denham Street Baptist in Somerset on August 24.

Surveillance photos showed Bell was in Indiana the day after the murder. On Tuesday night, police in Dandridge, Tennessee, which is east of Knoxville, picked him up and arrested him.

"We knew through our investigative efforts that he was in the Dandridge area, the I-40 area in Tennessee down there," said Captain Mike Correll with Somerset Police. "We contacted Dandridge PD and they were on the look out for him and located him not far from the police department from what I understand."

Carolyn New's sons, Richard and Jonathan New, said they are relieved at the arrest.

"Finally. Some closure. And the safety for the public," they said. "That this man was off the streets. And whatever involvement and so least he was secure and behind bars. This is the person of interest involved in all of this."

The family said Bell had been seen around the church before looking for help.

"Just from what I have been told he started coming to the church, attended a few services, was a person in need, needed a place to stay," Jonathan New said.

Somerset Police detectives traveled to Tennessee on Wednesday to interview Bell.

Bell is held in the Pulaski County Detention Center. No bond has been set.

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