Leader Blues

Monday, March 26, 2007

TOP STORY >>Former chief is tied to drug sales

IN SHORT: Convict says he sold crack cocaine for former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell as jury hears taped conversations of Kelly.

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

A young but seasoned criminal sold about $5,000 worth of crack cocaine for former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell “in the hood,” the man testified Friday in the sweeping corruption trial of Campbell, his wife Kelly Harrison Campbell and bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox.

Dexter Washington, 26, of Lonoke, testified that shortly after he was released from prison in 2005, Campbell asked him to sell crack for him.

“I was moving drugs for him,” Washington said.

“I didn’t want to,” said Washington, “but I was on probation. He could have put it on me.”

He said the chief fronted him about $2,500 worth of crack and wanted about $2,000 back and Washington said he went along because he feared the chief would make trouble for him otherwise.

When he gave the chief his money, Washington said, Campbell gave him more crack to sell, but this time Washington kept all the money to pay rent and bills.

“I was on the run,” he said.

After that, he was arrested twice by Lonoke city police on bogus warrants.

Washington told his story to Sgt. Jim Kulesa while locked up in the Lonoke County Detention Center several months after the alleged sales, he said.

The defense established that Washington still has two drug charges hanging over him plus sentencing as a habitual criminal and implied that he might have ginned up the story to get favorable treatment from the prosecution.

“I’m a grown man,” said Washington to pointed questioning by defense attorney Mark Hampton. “I have no reason to sit up here and lie.”

Defense attorney Patrick Benca asked Washington, who sometimes seemed uncertain about the timing of various events, why he never mentioned Jay Campbell until months after the alleged crack sales.

“Have we made any deals with you?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” said Washington.

“Did Kulesa promise you anything?”

“No.”

Campbell is not charged with buying or selling drugs, but Prosecutor Lona McCastlain presented testimony by Washington and others to help support the charge that Campbell masterminded a continuing criminal enterprise.

Also Friday, Jeff Boyer testified that he sold Campbell or his wife Ecstasy on three or four occasions, once about 20 pills.
Preston Boyles testified that he saw Jay Campbell buy two Ecstasy pills at the home of Jeff Boyer.

Billy Jennings, a drug user and ex convict, testified with limited immunity that he bought two Ecstasy tablets for the chief, who reimbursed him and told him the drugs were being sent to a lab for analysis.

The state presented perhaps a dozen receipts purportedly signed by Jennings saying he had received payment for information, but Jennings, who seemed to have a lot of trouble remembering things, said he thought only about three of them actually bore his signature.

The prosecution has alleged that Campbell diverted police money for informants and drug buys to his own use.

The Lonoke mayor, police chief and city council were subpoenaed for possible testimony Friday about a personnel issue involving a Randy Mauk, a Lonoke police officer who is said to be an important witness in this case.

After conferring out of court in what may technically have been a violation of the state Freedom of Information Open Meeting law, attorneys for both sides decided they didn’t need testimony from those Lonoke officials and sent them home.

Thursday, jurors heard from DNA experts and forensic chemists from the state Crime Lab who testified that Kelly Campbell’s DNA definitely was on a drinking straw, Jay Campbell’s almost certainly was and that the straw had methamphetamine residue on the inside.

Benca, Jay Campbell’s lawyer, elicited testimony that there is no way to know if the DNA samples were left on the straw at the same time—for instance, Jay Campbell could have drunk a cola through it and later Kelly Campbell could have snorted methamphetamine.

Wednesday and Thursday, jurors sat through 24 taped telephone conversations between Kelly Campbell and her inmate-lover Anthony Shane Scott.

The two knew they were being taped, but still managed a certain amount of intimacy on the phone, with Scott telling her that she was his future and that she should divorce Jay Campbell.

The tapes corresponded to the time that the investigation into the Act 309 inmate situation at the Lonoke jail evolved into a state police investigation of the Campbells, corruption, drugs, sex and theft. Partway through the tapes, Kelly Campbell discovers that Scott has been cooperating with investigators. She says she feels abandoned by Scott.

He admitted on the stand that he was leading her along to help investigators and ingratiate himself to them.

Through a day-and-a-half of taped phone conversations and testimony by Scott, the Campbells read the accompanying transcripts.

There was a moment at the end of the testimony when Kelly Campbell seemed contrite about the pain Jay Campbell may have suffered from the affair and its public airing and she smoothed his lapels and seemed to try to comfort or reassure him.
The state, however, believes this was a scripted photo op for the press.