published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Rape-kidnapping case goes to grand jury; bonds raised

The alleged victim in a rape and kidnapping case testified Thursday that her attackers held open her mouth and blew crack-cocaine smoke in her face during the attack.

Details from the 32-year-old Rock Spring, Ga., woman’s testimony and the two defendants’ criminal histories led Sessions Judge Christie Mahn Sell to raise the defendants’ bonds and charges, though she dismissed a separate charge for one.

Sell sent the case to the grand jury for a possible indictment on multiple charges of aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping, up from aggravated kidnapping.

Sell raised the bond for Carlton Wayne Cameron, a 52-year-old city employee, from $60,000 to $100,000. Cameron had been free on the lower bond, but deputies took him back into custody Thursday.

She raised the bond for 35-year-old Shrena Bell, who is in custody, from $34,000 to $71,000.

Cameron’s attorney, Lloyd Levitt, argued against the higher bond.

“There’s going to be abundant proof of reasonable doubt,” Levitt said.

Assistant District Attorney Rodney Strong had requested the increased bonds and the upgraded kidnapping charge.

According to court records, Bell’s criminal history includes charges of prostitution, drug possession and theft. Cameron pleaded guilty in 1985 to aggravated sexual battery against an 8-year-old girl, Strong said during the hearing.

Levitt and Bell’s public defender, Sharetta Smith, declined to comment outside court.

The alleged victim — whose name is being withheld in accordance with Chattanooga Times Free Press policy — testified that Bell held a knife near her throat while she was sitting in her sport utility vehicle at a downtown intersection on Feb. 25. Initial reports said the victim was at Warehouse Row, but the woman testified that she was only near the shopping area, not at it.

The woman said Bell drove to a 16th Avenue apartment, where Bell and Cameron put her in a locked bedroom and took turns performing sex acts on her over a six-hour period.

After two sexual assaults, the woman said, Bell left the bedroom door unlocked. The woman said she fled the apartment and found her SUV with the keys inside.

Bell shook her head several times as the woman testified, but Cameron did not react visibly.

The woman said Bell took her driver’s license, photographs of her children, a digital camera and wedding rings.

“She said if I told on her that she would slit my kids’ throats,” the woman said.

Sell dismissed a robbery charge against Cameron, saying that based on testimony, there was no evidence he participated in robbing her.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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