Table of Contents

Bob Shell Case Summary

Who I Am: Internationally known and respected photographer/writer. Author of more than two dozen books and thousands of magazine articles. I have worked as a technical photographic consultant for Eastman Kodak Company and National Geographic Society. I am the co-inventor of the Weincell, an environmentally friendly replacement for mercury batteries used in photographic, scientific and medical equipment. My biography has been in Who's Who in the World since 1982.

My Case: In 2003 I was having an affair with one of my models. She was a drug addict and I was attempting to get her off drugs. On June 3, 2003, I returned to my studio to find her unconscious and unresponsive. She died from an apparent overdose of prescription and street drugs. I was charged with drug distribution and possession charges based on the fact that my mother had died a month previous and I still had some of her medications.

I was also charged with sex crimes based on altered evidence, and false. statements made by the Medical Examiner. City of Radford Police Department detectives took my computers, photo equipment, etc. They ran the computers in their office and deleted and/or altered thousands of files before sending the computers to the State Police computer lab in Richmond. They also changed the times on the digital photos I took on June 3, 2003, converting them to inculpatory evidence. Their own witness, the Medical Examiner, said that without the times, the photos were "just pictures" and told him nothing. At trial we showed conclusive proof of these times being altered but the jury either did not understand or simply chose to ignore this technical evidence.

Additionally, the police photographed eight prescription bottles at the model's apartment, but when they logged them in nine days later, there were only six. They allowed those to be incinerated by the Medical Examiner's office without analysis, in spite of the fact that at least one bottle had three different types of pills in it.

Although the Medical Examiner took a number of samples during the autopsy, only heart blood and vitreous humor were tested. In violation of statutes, all samples were destroyed by the Medical Examiner's office without any notification to the Court, prosecution, or defense. When I arranged for additional testing by National Medical Services, the police shipped them a box of empty specimen bottles.

There was no clear and proper chain of custody for any of the evidence, but in particular, an empty morphine bottle had multiple chains of custody that were mutually exclusive.

The judge allowed all of this tainted evidence in. During the two week trial, he only once upheld an objection to evidence, and that was to giant enlargements that distorted the nature of the photographs.

The prosecution presented an emotional case that ignored the facts and evidence and painted me as a pornographer in spite of the fact that erotic imagery makes up only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of photographs I have taken and none of my photography is illegal. Unfortunately, the jury chose emotion over fact and convicted me.

At sentencing the presentencing report showed that the sentencing guidelines called for a maximum of three years, but the judge ignored the guidelines and sentenced me to more than thirty years (running all sentences consecutively).