North Carolina prosecutor Eric Bellas, 45, has been placed on administrative leave and removed from the high-profile murder case of Zahra Baker following his arrest this month. What is strange is the charge: drunken bicycling. I do not wish to make light of drunken bicycling, but is it really such a crime that warrants removal from a murder case?
Bellas is the chief assistant district attorney for Burke, Catawba and Caldwell counties. He was arrested after crashing his bike Monday night at a resort. He refused a blood-alcohol test.
Bellas was arrested and charged with the misdemeanor after he allegedly crashed his bike just before midnight Monday at the resort, according to the station and the Hickory Daily Record. He had some injuries to his face, but apparently was not seriously injured.
The misdemeanor charge is for “operation of a bicycle while impaired.”
I do not see how the operation of a bicycle while impaired really such a shocking act to require Bellas’ removal from the case. Many would question the need for a criminal charge, but, accepting the legitimacy of the charge, there should be some leeway for recognizing the relative minor nature of the offense, in my view.