Zahra Baker Prosecutor, Eric Bellas, Charged With DWI After Bicycle Crash

06/23/2011 08:46 pm ET | Updated Aug 23, 2011
  • David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter, The Huffington Post

Eric Bellas, the prosecutor in charge of the Zahra Clare Baker murder case, has been arrested for driving while intoxicated following a bicycle accident, police said.

Bellas, 45, was taken into custody early Tuesday, near the Sea Trail Golf Resort and Convention Center in Sunset Beach, N.C. According to police, Bellas, who is a chief assistant district attorney in Catawba County, was involved in a bicycle accident on Clubhouse Road.

"He refused treatment," Sunset Beach Police Chief Lisa Massey told The Huffington Post. "An officer came to the opinion that he was impaired [and] placed him under arrest."

Bellas was initially transported to the county jail, but officials there refused to admit him because of his injuries. The officer then transported the prosecutor to a local hospital, where doctors "deemed he was OK [for] transport back to the jail," Massey said.

Bellas allegedly refused to submit to alcohol tests and declined to comment on the bicycle accident. He was subsequently charged with operation of a bicycle while impaired.

Bellas is the lead prosecutor in the Zahra Baker murder case.

Zahra, a 10-year-old girl who survived cancer, was murdered and dismembered in October 2010. In November, AOL News obtained exclusive letters, believed to be written by Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker. In them, she discussed the disabled girl's disappearance and said something "kinda horrifying" was done with the young girl's remains.

Baker is currently in custody and awaiting trial for the second-degree murder of Zahra. The young girl's father, Adam Baker, has not been charged in connection with his daughter's death.

It is not yet clear how Bellas's arrest will impact the Baker case.

According to Donald Farr, chief legal assistant for the Catawba County District Attorney's Office, Bellas has been placed on administrative leave and "relieved of his prosecutorial duties."

Bellas is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 18.