A Marietta man’s 2016 murder has been resolved in court, with the accused pleading guilty to murder and other charges less than two weeks after being reindicted in the case.
Rickey Earl Taylor Jr., 31, pleaded “guilty but mentally ill” to murder, false imprisonment, aggravated assault and robbery by force in relation to the death of 59-year-old Marietta resident Richard Olen Bell at Bell’s Windcliff Drive home on July 8, 2016, an Aug. 12 news release from Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes states.
Judge Gregory Poole sentenced Taylor to life in prison without parole, the maximum sentence, after accepting Taylor’s guilty pleas in court on Friday afternoon, the news release stated.
Cobb police say they discovered Bell’s body on July 8, 2016 while conducting a welfare check at the request of a relative.
Bell’s wrists and ankles were bound behind his body and he had sustained blunt-force trauma to his head, the DA’s office said, adding that his wallet, cell phone and computer were missing.
A medical examiner estimated Bell had been killed as early as July 2, the DA’s office said.
Arrest warrants state Taylor used a shirt, shoe string and electrical cord to tie Bell’s hands and feet behind his body before hitting him in the head with a “heavy linear shaped object.”
Court records show Taylor became a suspect when police discovered cell phone records showing about 50 calls and texts between him and Bell on the day Bell died.
GBI analysis also showed Taylor’s DNA matched that found on Bell’s bindings.
The DA’s office said Bell’s cousin, Donna Bryan, was in court last week and described how Bell, a Rich’s Department Store retiree and antiques dealer, was always the life of the party.
“Friends flew into Atlanta from states far and wide,” Bryan told the court, in relation to Bell’s 50th birthday party.
“He held forth from the podium with funny stories about each of his guests, from the times he had spent with them, dating back to his childhood,” Bryan said. “By the end of the evening we all had tears streaming down our faces and sat holding our sides from all the laughter Richard had brought to the occasion.”
Taylor also faces unrelated charges in Gwinnett County in relation to several home invasions and a double homicide.
“Taylor is one of the most sadistic criminals I’ve prosecuted during my career, having demonstrated a level of torture and depravity that is virtually unspeakable,” Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said. “I am extremely grateful for Cobb police and our Gwinnett County law enforcement partners for their tireless efforts that allowed us to successfully prosecute Taylor and obtain the maximum sentence, ensuring that he will never be able to prey on the public again.”
Taylor is scheduled to face trial next month in the double homicide in Gwinnett County, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty if he is convicted, the Cobb DA’s office said.
On Aug. 7, 2016 Gwinnett authorities found 29-year-old James Sramek dead with his hands bound and hanging in a closet, while the body of 61-year-old Nicola Sramek was covered with sheets, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported in 2017.
The two had been tortured with a hammer and knife before their deaths, police said.
According to the newspaper, the Srameks were believed to have been killed three days earlier, with Taylor linked to the crime scene through video surveillance and physical evidence.
He was arrested the day before the two bodies were discovered, according to a Gwinnett County Police news release, initially for his possible involvement in a string of armed robberies over the course of about two days.
Taylor was initially indicted in July 2017 in connection to Bell’s death, at The Grandstand apartment complex, just north of Terrell Mill Road on the western side of Interstate 75.
He was reindicted by a Cobb grand jury on Aug. 1, on seven counts, court records show.
Jail records show Taylor has been in custody at the Cobb jail since Nov. 21, 2018 when he was transferred by Cobb Sheriff’s deputies from the Gwinnett jail.