Suspect in Raleigh child's murder appears in court

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William Lee Bell made his first court appearance.

The voice of Judge Robert Rader of Wake County District Court filled the courtroom: "The maximum penalty for that would be the death penalty or life in prison. Okay, you understand?"

When William Lee Bell's attorney put his hand on his client's back, the 22-year-old quietly said "yes."

Hearing the judge's words was also hard for Bell's family and friends who were sitting behind him.

Bell turned himself in Thursday night at the Wake County Detention Center.

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It was nearly two months ago that police were called to Bell's parent's home in northeast Raleigh's Somerset Place on May 20.

It's where, according to a search warrant, paramedics found 2-year old Chase Eaddy.

The boy's stomach was badly swollen and he appeared to have internal injuries.

Bell and his parents were caring for the child while Bell's girlfriend - who is the boy's mother - was working, according to Bell's attorney.

He said Bell spoke to police, but didn't confess.

RELATED: RALEIGH POLICE: 2-YEAR-OLD'S DEATH RULED A HOMICIDE

ABC11 reached out to the boy's mother but has not heard from her.

Neighbors in Somerset Place were saddened.

"I was kind of hoping that we wouldn't hear it was a murder," said Dean Maiorano, a neighbor. "I was hoping that we were going to hear that an accident happened or something like that. It's very sad to hear what happened."

The little boy's cause of death hasn't been made public. ABC11 has asked the Medical Examiner's office for any completed autopsy report but has not heard back.

"It must have been horrible. And to think he suffered prior to dying," Maiorano said. "It makes me want to cry."

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