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'I turn into an animal,' says ex-Utah deputy facing DUI and possession charges

The Deseret News,
BYLINE: Geoff Liesik, Deseret News,
Link to Article

Emery County, UT

2012-02-23_I turn into an animal_01
Former Emery County sheriff's deputy Clayton Bell was arrested Oct. 16, 2011. Investigators say Bell admitted to burglarizing the sheriff's office evidence room on at least eight occasions, stealing prescription drugs and a pair of binoculars. He was charged Wednesday with possession of a controlled substance and DUI. (Emery County Sheriff's Office)

CASTLE DALE — During an interview with Utah Highway Patrol troopers following a Dec. 18 crash, a former Emery County sheriff's deputy described the power of his addiction to prescription drugs.

"I turn into an animal," deputy Clayton Bell said, according to a copy of the troopers' report obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request.

"My mind tells me, 'You're going to die if you can't have this,' and then, whatever it takes to get it is what I do."

Bell was charged Wednesday in 7th District Court with possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony; three counts of possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; DUI, a class B misdemeanor; and improper usage of lanes, a class C misdemeanor.

Bell, 29, was driving under the influence of prescription drugs on Dec. 18, when he crashed his pickup truck on state Route 29 in Emery County, the UHP report states. A paramedic working on Bell after the crash found a small green box in Bell's jacket containing a combination of pills used to treat panic and anxiety disorders, as well as a muscle relaxant, troopers said.

"He said he wished he had died that day," the report states. "He was asked why and he said, 'Just ’cause. I'm in hell, literally.'"

At the time of the DUI crash, Bell was already facing 12 felony charges in 7th District Court. Those charges stem from at least eight instances where investigators say Bell broke into the evidence room at the Emery County Sheriff's Office to steal prescription drugs.

Bell resigned from the sheriff's office Oct. 1. He was arrested 15 days later after he was found inside the sheriff's office just before midnight, jail records state.

Bell told investigators he entered the building on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16, gained access to the evidence room and stole prescription drugs, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Salas wrote after the arrest.

"He stated he had taken no other items, but needed the pills because he had formed an addiction," the sergeant wrote.

Deputies who searched Bell after his arrest found 40 prescription pills in his pockets, according to jail records.

Prosecutors charged Bell with eight counts of burglary, and one count each of falsely obtaining a prescription, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, theft, and possession of items prohibited in a correctional facility, all third-degree felonies.

He was also charged with theft and driving with a measurable amount of a controlled substance in his body, both class B misdemeanors.

Then, in December, Bell was charged with burglary, a second-degree felony, for entering a neighbor's house without permission on the day after he crashed his truck, according to court documents.

He was caught in the neighbor's house by his mother, who was worried about what her son might do and followed him, court records state. Bell's parents contacted authorities to report the incident.

Bell is due back in court March 6. A call to his attorney, David Allred, was not immediately returned.

The troopers who interviewed Bell after the crash said he told them he wants to enter a drug rehab program.

"I'm powerless to this," he said. "I need help, I really do.

"There's only two options here, I'm either going to get help or I'm going to die."

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