Jury Finds Man Guilty of Brutal Domestic Violence Murder

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News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón


June 15, 2017

Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:     ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931         |        MAX SZABO(415) 553-9089




SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that a jury found Lee Bell, age 54, of San Francisco, guilty of first degree murder in the 2010 homicide of Pearla Louis. 

“This was a brutal act by a callous man,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “Domestic violence touches far too many of us, and it can be prevented.”

According to court records, on May 18, 2010 at 8:30 am, a large suitcase was recovered floating in the San Francisco Bay at Folsom and Embarcadero by San Francisco Fire Department Firefighters.  Crammed and stuffed inside of that suitcase was the battered, beaten, strangled and naked body of 52-year-old Pearla Louis, a mother of four.  Ms. Louis was the girlfriend of Mr. Bell at the time of her death.

Three days before the discovery of the victim on Sunday May 15, 2010, Ms. Louis met Lee Bell at 5 pm at the Harcourt Hotel in the Tenderloin.  They left and returned at approximately 7 pm, upon which time the desk clerk observed Bell speaking to Ms. Louis in an angry manner.  This was the last time anyone saw Ms. Louis alive.  

The next morning, Monday, May 16 at 9:00 am, video footage captured Mr. Bell arriving at the Drake Hotel, also a single room occupancy where he previously had stored his belongings.  He requested the Drake staff provide him his suitcase, which he had in storage.  The staff provided him with one large suitcase shortly beforenoon.

The next morning, May 17, 2010, at 8:30 am, this same suitcase was seen floating against the rocks in the Bay by the Embarcadero near Folsom Street. Subsequent DNA testing of the handle of this suitcase contained Defendant’s DNA profile.  Mr. Bell was charged with the first degree murder of Ms. Louis on June 9th, 2010. 

“If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence it’s imperative that you get help,” said ADA Michael Swart.  “The victim’s family and their resolve over the years to see this case through is to be commended.”    

The Honorable Carol Yaggy presided.  This successful prosecution is due to the excellent investigation by SFPD Lt. Michael Dudoroff and Lt. Daniel Dedet.  Additional thanks go to Paralegal Tony Yu, Victim Advocates Karima Baptiste, Maria Reynoso and Francesca Zarate, and IT Support Staff Leland Chan.  Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart prosecuted the case.