A Lexington man charged with killing a woman at a Somerset church pleaded not guilty Friday at his arraignment.
Dwight Mitchell Bell, 41, is charged with murder in the death of Ruthie Carolyn New, 70. Her body was found Aug. 24 in a storage closet at Denham Street Baptist Church, where her late husband was pastor at one time.
Bell also is charged with robbery and theft. He allegedly took New’s car and some personal items.
Bell’s court-appointed attorney, Teresa Whitaker, requested a preliminary hearing for him. The purpose of such a hearing is for a judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to send Bell’s case to a grand jury for possible indictment.
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District Judge Jeffrey Scott Lawless scheduled the hearing for Sept. 20. Lawless ordered Bell held without bond.
Bell has ties to Wayne County but jail records list his most recent address as 207 E. Loudon Avenue in Lexington.
New died as a result of a cut to her neck, according to a court record.
The robbery charge against Bell in conjunction with the murder charge makes the crime eligible for the death penalty, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy Montgomery.