He also studied fine art and worked as a natural history painter.
The events surrounding his case have focused attention on photographers" professional conduct, and boundary issues with their models. Bob Shell trained in zoology and, after college, worked for the Smithsonian Institution. His paintings and drawings were widely published and included wildlife conservation stamps for the National Wildlife Federation.
In the 1970s Shell decided to change careers and began to pursue photography and writing.
He wrote his first articles for Shutterbug magazine in 1973 and continued his association with that magazine, later becoming its Editor, a position he held until 2003. Shell was known as a teacher of photography, and for his nude and erotic photography.
In early 2003, Shell began a bondage-themed project with the intent of establishing a commercial website ("bound2bwildcom") and producing a bondage-themed book under his nom de plume Edward Lee. On June 3, 2003, his model (and, in his account, girlfriend) Marion Franklin died of a morphine overdose during a bondage-themed photographic session.
Shell was prosecuted in connection with her death by Radford City Commonwealth"s Attorney Chris Rehak.
After four years of delays punctuated by allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Shell went to trial before a jury on August 20, 2007. Although the sequence of events surrounding Franklin"s death was contentious, the jury agreed that Shell had administered the lethal dose of morphine to Franklin. On 31 August, Shell was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and seven other drug and sex offenses (attempted forcible sodomy, attempted animate object sexual penetration, and possessing and distributing morphine and diazepam).
The jury returned convictions in support of the government"s theory the sex acts occurred after the victim was in fact dead.
At the age of 60, Shell was sentenced to 32 years and six months imprisonment. All his appeals have since failed. include: X. X.