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E. Texas attorney says national news contributes to client facing more serious charges

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Russel Lindstrom, Source: Smith County Jail Russel Lindstrom, Source: Smith County Jail
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas father arrested for manslaughter says his daughter's death was an accident. Thursday night, his defense attorney announced he feels the same way.

 Russel Lindstrom's daughters, 4-year-old Bella Rose and 3-year-old Zoey, were found in the family's hot pickup truck in June. Bella Rose did not survive.

 Lindstrom is now facing charges in Bella's death and his attorney is worried Lindstrom is not being treated fairly during the investigation. He says authorities refuse to provide requested information about Bella's death. He also believes recent national news about children dying in hot cars is giving his client's case unnecessary attention.

 "My feeling is one of the reasons this case has taken off is because of the case that's in Georgia," says Kurt Noell, Lindstrom's defense attorney. He says it's unfortunate because Lindstrom is nothing like the Georgia father charged with murdering his son by leaving him locked in a hot car instead of dropping him off at daycare.

"This is a completely different scenario. That was the leaving of a child in a car, every indication is these children climbed into the car and actually confined themselves because of the child safety locks that were on the car," Noell says.

He believes what happened to Bella was an unexpected tragedy, not manslaughter, saying, "At best, the state has a criminally negligent homicide case. This is a terrible tragedy; it's an accident. Accidents happen."

Noell says in order to prove Bella's death was an accident, he needs access to evidence he assumes the district attorney's office will use against Lindstrom.

"They will not allow us access to the vehicle. Why? They've had it now for more than a month."

He says a law known as The Michael Morton Law makes it illegal for the state to suppress evidence or secrete witnesses capable of establishing Lindstrom's innocence.

"The statements they have literally taken from witnesses, written or recorded, exist now. Why don't we have that, so there can be a fair presentation of both sides to the grand jury?" asks Noell.

Noell says comments about expensive electronics in Lindstrom's arrest warrant reveal how officials feel about the case.

"Whether I have a big screen TV or no TV shouldn't form the basis of whether I am responsible for the death of a child. That's just trash in my opinion."

Noell says he understands Bella's death needs to be investigated. He simply wants a fair chance to defend Lindstrom in front of a grand jury so everyone involved can move forward.

We spoke to The Smith County Sheriff's Office about Noell's concerns. Sheriff Larry Smith told us his office has not finished its investigation and the case has not been fully turned over to the D.A.'s office.

Meanwhile, Russel Lindstrom is being held in The Smith County Jail on $200,000 bond.

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