Four sentenced in beating of DJ Bell, Dan Fair

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Four people charged in connection were beating a man and his partner were sentenced May 23 to serve time. The four had already pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and rioting charges.

Three of the defendants, Ricky Ian Peace, 34; Leti David Mageo, 33; and letitaia Tavita Nuusila, 27, were sentenced to serve zero to five years in prison for all three charges; however, they are allowed to serve all three sentences concurrently. The fourth person, Lulu Latu, was sentenced to serve 365 days in jail, but 180 days of the sentence was waived. Nuusila was allowed to surrender himself to the court by the end of the month so he can see the birth of his son, but the rest were taken directly into custody.

They were also ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

“I finally feel like I’m at peace,” David James “D.J.” Bell, one of the victims said after the sentencing.

“I know I feel safer today than I did yesterday,” Daniel Fair, the other victim of the attack, said.

The charges stem from an incident in July of 2008, when the two men were in their home, their doors were knocked in and they were attacked. The attackers said they believed that Bell and Fair had kidnapped two children after the kids left a house party and wandered over to the couple’s home. The attackers entered the home and brutally beat the couple. They threw a TV on Fair’s head, smashing his eye socket. Bell suffered a brain injury, cuts on his body and permanent partial hearing loss because of the beating. Bell was cut and dragged around by his hair.

“I was outside laying on the ground after being dragged out by my hair and cut with the broken glass, my attackers yelled at me, ‘You’re going to die faggots.’ As the fists began flying I watched as they attacked Daniel, who did nothing wrong. They yelled, ‘Stay down you fucking faggots,’” Bell said.

After the attack, Bell was arrested and originally charged with kidnapping, but he was later acquitted, found not guilty on all charges. The jury called the trial against him a travesty and “waste of taxpayer money.” Bell is still being denied victim’s reparation funds from the state because the current caseworkers claim he instigated the attack, despite being found not guilty in a jury trial.

The attackers were charged with several crimes, after Bell was found not guilty, ranging from first-degree felony aggravated burglary to third-degree felony riot.

Despite being found not guilty on all charges, Bell was still accused by his attackers of wrongdoing.

“DJ Bell made a choice and caused the ripple effect of what happened,” Mageo said.

Peace also asserted that he reacted violently because he felt his son was threatened.

“I wish the whole thing never happened, but I only did it because I love my son,” Peace said.

Bell and Fair asked for the maximum sentence, which would have been up to 15 years in prison, but Bell said he was glad that some prison time was ordered.

There were three other people charged in the attack, Angelina Dibella, 32; Marsha Finau, 31 and Lisa Rita Aiono, 27.

Finau entered a guilty plea in abeyance and her charges will be dismissed in January if she commits no other crimes. Charges against Dibella were dismissed and Aiono is due to make an appearance in court in June.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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  1. Friends,

    I just created a petition entitled Demand D.J. Bell Receive His Fair Share of Utah Victims Reparations Fund, because I care deeply about this very important issue.

    I’m trying to collect 100000 signatures, and I could really use your help.

    To read more about what I’m trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

    It’ll just take a minute!

    Once you’re done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!

  2. My thanks to Dee Bishop for bringing this to my attention. I am looking into this personally and immediately.

    Daniel W. Thatcher
    Senator, District 12
    Chair, Criminal Justice Appropriations

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