New York Daily News

February 12, 2004

Parole denied for cops' killer


Bell in 1973

Cop killer Herman Bell's controversial bid for parole was denied yesterday, relieving the widow of one of his victims and upsetting the children of the other.

Bell has been behind bars 30 years for gunning down Officers Waverly Jones, 33, and Joseph Piagentini, 28, in Harlem in 1971.

"For Herman Bell, it is his right to ask for parole," said Piagentini's widow, Diane. "It is also my right to ask for denial, for what he did to my husband and to Waverly Jones."

"We're relieved for the families of the murdered police officers, and we're grateful to the tens of thousands of the people of the city who rose to the occasion to oppose this parole," said Patrick Lynch, president of the city's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

But Jones' children were disappointed with the ruling, and said Bell had turned his life around in prison.

"I'm sad and disappointed," said Wanda Jones, an infant when Bell and two other black radicals gunned down her father and Joseph Piagentini.

"[Bell] made a horrible situation work for him. He never let being in prison break his spirit," Jones added, noting Bell's clean jail record and the master's degree he earned while behind bars.

Bell had several job offers lined up and was planning to live with his wife in either New York or California if he was released, said his lawyer, Robert Boyle. Wanda Jones and her brother, also named Waverly Jones, campaigned in New York last week for Bell's release.

Bell, Anthony Bottom and Albert Washington, members of the Black Liberation Army, were all convicted of double murder and sentenced to 25 years to life for the ambush-style killings. Washington died in prison in 2000, and Bottom was denied parole in 2002.

Bell, who maintains his innocence, gets another crack at parole in two years.

With Joe Mahoney