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Nicole Paultre-Bell readies for long trial

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Although the defense waived its right to have a trial by jury last month, those involved in the case said it could stretch out for as long as two months. Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney representing Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre-Bell, said the trial's duration would not affect his clients's determination to see that justice is served"Nicole intends to be in court everyday and hear every word of testimony," he said. Phillip Karasyk, one of the attorneys representing the three indicted detectives, did not return calls for comment.On Nov. 26, 2006, Bell was celebrating his bachelor party with his friends Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman at the Kalua Cabaret, a strip club in Jamaica where undercover detectives were performing an undercover investigation into alleged drug and prostitution rings. Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora, Marc Cooper, Mike Carey and Paul Headley claim they heard one of the three mentioning that they were going to get a gun and followed them outside, according to the criminal complaint.The detectives and Bell's entourage allegedly got into a verbal confrontation at the corner of Liverpool Street and 94th Avenue that led to Bell ramming his Nissan Maxima into an unmarked police minivan, the complaint said. The five detectives responded with 50 gunshots that killed Bell and wounded Benefield and Guzman.Oliver fired 31 bullets and reloaded once, Isnora fired 11 shots, Cooper fired four, Carey fired three shots and Headley fired one, according to the indictment.Bell was hours away from getting married to Paultre, whom he met in high school. It was later determined that none of the three was carrying a weapon. In March, a Queens grand jury indicted Oliver and Isnora on manslaughter charges. Cooper was indicted on reckless endangerment charges. Although Carey and Headley were not charged with the shooting, they along with their partners were named in a negligence lawsuit filed by Paultre-Bell in July.The detectives' attorneys filed a motion last month to move the trial out of Queens, citing a survey that indicated news coverage of the shooting had "poisoned" the borough's potential jury pool. The move angered Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who countered the motion with his own study that showed potential jurors would be impartial.A State Appellate Court judge agreed with the DA and denied the change of venue, which prompted the attorneys to place the case's outcome in the hands of Queens Criminal Court Judge Arthur Cooperman. Rubenstein, who is also representing Benefield and Guzman, said he and his clients have confidence that Cooperman will reach a verdict that will bring justice to the Bell family."Nicole has faith in the system and confidence that at the end of the day justice will be done," he said.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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