Man found guilty of murder of Ames woman and all other charges in Story County trial
The man charged with killing Ranea K. Bell, 37, of Ames, in February 2021 has been found guilty of Bell's murder and several other charges by a jury in Story County court.
Jurors began deliberating Monday on the counts filed against Richard G. Fleck Jr. of first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, trafficking in stolen weapons and fourth-degree theft, and on Tuesday found Fleck guilty on all counts.
Fleck, who lived with Bell in Ames as her boyfriend, beat her to death Feb. 19, 2021. Regarding the handgun she owned, Fleck later told police he had taken it and gotten rid of it in Kansas City, Missouri — at first he said by taking the gun apart and throwing it away, but later saying he sold it instead.
Kansas City police alerted Ames police to check on Bell after they received a report of a man hiding a trash bag in a drainpipe. Officers said they found bloody items in the trash bag, some of which were identified as belonging to Bell. She was found dead the night of Feb. 20.
The question before jurors in Fleck's trial as to Bell's death was whether he killed her with premeditation or in self-defense.
Defense attorney Mike Adams argued at the trial's opening last week that Bell became violent against Fleck the night of Feb. 19 after he told her he was leaving her for another woman, and that he eventually blacked out.
Exhibits filed by the defense and prosecution showed Fleck with a few small cuts and scratches on his face.
Keisha Cretsinger, an assistant attorney general for Iowa who prosecuted the case, argued at the trial's opening that Fleck killed Bell "because of his own insecurities," that she had disrespected him and that he was suspicious she was cheating on him.
Cretsinger said that the night of Feb. 19, "Richard Fleck was not in a fight for his life. Ranea Bell was, and she lost."
Jurors on the first day of the trial heard testimony from the Ames police officer who was first on the scene and saw photos and body camera footage from him that showed Bell's body and blood visible on many surfaces and objects inside her apartment, especially in the bedroom around her.
Numerous other exhibits filed by the prosecution showed more blood, as well as autopsy photos documenting Bell's extensive and severe injuries.
Cretsinger told the Tribune after the verdict was reached that "while intent cannot be proven directly," the physical evidence showed jurors that "This was a brutal beating that took time and spanned different rooms of the apartment. If he had just wanted to beat her it would have ended long before it did."
Adams did not immediately available for comment on the verdict.
Fleck is scheduled to be sentenced June 20.
Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at email@example.com. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.