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Prosecutor on leave after DWI charge

A lead prosecutor in the Zahra Baker case has been placed on administrative leave after he was charged with driving while impaired on a bicycle this week near the N.C. coast.

The District Attorney's Office in District 25, which includes Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, said chief assistant district attorney Eric Bellas was allegedly involved in a bicycle accident on the grounds of Sea Trail Resort in Sunset Beach.

The N.C. Conference of District Attorneys is holding its summer association meeting this week at the resort.

Sunset Beach Police Chief Lisa Massey could not be reached by the Observer on Wednesday, but she told WSOC-TV that Bellas crashed a bicycle at the resort late Monday. He was charged when he refused an alcohol test, Massey told WSOC-TV.

Sunset Beach police arrested Bellas and took him to Brunswick County jail just before 2 a.m. Tuesday; he was released about six hours later, jail officials said.

Bellas was relieved of his prosecutorial duties Wednesday, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Bellas is a lead prosecutor in the case of Zahra Baker, whose stepmother, Elisa Baker, is charged with her murder.

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