Local

June 22, 2011

A prosecutor in Zahra Baker case charged with DWI

A local chief assistant district attorney - and a lead prosecutor in the Zahra Baker case - was arrested early Tuesday on the N.C. coast and charged with driving while impaired.

A local chief assistant district attorney - and a lead prosecutor in the Zahra Baker case - was arrested early Tuesday on the N.C. coast and charged with driving while impaired.

Sunset Beach police arrested Eric Bellas and took him to the Brunswick County jail just before 2 a.m. He was released around 8:30 a.m., jail officials said.

Bellas is the chief assistant district attorney in District 25, which includes Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties.

In his mug shot, Bellas appears to have a black eye and several scrapes on his face.

Sunset Beach police could not be reached immediately to provide more details on the circumstances of the DWI charge, but a source close to Bellas said it was a bicycle incident.

The N.C. Conference of District Attorneys is holding its summer association meeting this week at the Sea Trail Resort in Sunset Beach.

Catawba County District Attorney Jay Gaither declined to comment on Bellas' arrest.

Bellas is a lead prosecutor in the case against Elisa Baker, the woman accused in the killing of 10-year-old Zahra Baker. The girl was reported missing from her Hickory home in October, and her dismembered remains were later discovered scattered across rural areas.

Bellas was also the lead prosecutor in the case against a Caldwell County farmer who was charged in the death of his wife, Emily Anderson. Those charges were later dismissed.

Staff writer Franco Ordoñez contributed.

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