Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Question of Self-Defense Friends Say Biker Wanted to End Dispute

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Question of Self-Defense Friends Say Biker Wanted to End Dispute

Article excerpt

Ray Bellows died because of who he was, not what he did, his girlfriend said. He wore black leather, had tattoos, rode a motorcycle and hung around with a rough-looking crowd.

"He wasn't a violent man," Virginia Livingston said yesterday, two days after 84-year-old Wilbur Wood shot Bellows in a neighbor's yard during a dispute over noise.

A black and orange cross, a Harley Davidson hat, and the signatures of "Papa Joe" and "Animal Missy" mark the area of quiet Alexon Drive where Bellows died about 5 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities do not deny Livingston's contention, but say Bellows' reputation added to the threat the elderly and infirm Wood felt when the burly biker approached Wood's porch with a holstered knife and a friend.

As a result, Assistant State Attorney Jay Taylor said it's unlikely Wood will be charged.

"It's not the best way to handle a neighborhood dispute. The question is, what would any reasonable man have done in Wood's shoes?" Taylor said. "It appears to me to be justifiable."

Taylor said he'll make a final decision today.

An ongoing dispute between the neighbors reignited Sunday after Bellows, Livingston and a male friend arrived home from a night of partying.

Wood called police to complain about noise. Police investigated and left without citing the couple. Bellows went next door to see Wood, who was sitting outside on his porch, both sides say.

According to Livingston -- who was also arrested Sunday for threatening Wood after the shooting -- Bellows wanted to settle the dispute. He approached the stairs leading to the porch, and extended his hand in a sign of peace, said Livingston.

"He said, `Let's be through with this and be friends,'" said Livingston, who said she witnessed the killing. "He had his hand out when . . . [Wood] shot him dead."

Livingston said Wood was waiting for Bellows with a gun.

Police said Wood told a different story. Bellows, 38, came over with a friend, and threatened to put Wood's "face in the ground" for calling the police.

Bellows, a muscular, much-younger man than Wood, wore a T-shirt depicting a gun barrel that read "Support Your Local Outlaws," a motorcycle gang with whom Bellows sometimes associated. …

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