Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TOP STORY >>Campbells get 619 years total

IN SHORT: Jury recommends Jay Campbell’s 315 years and Kelly Campbell’s 304 years to run concurrent, meaning Campbell could be out in 10 years and his wife in less than four years.

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

The jury recommended locking up Jay and Kelly Campbell Tuesday night and looked to be throwing away the key in the sprawling Lonoke corruption case that has riveted the attention of Central Arkansans for nearly two months.

The color drained from Kelly Campbell’s face as the jury first sentenced her husband to 40 years in prison for masterminding a continuing criminal enterprise (he could have gotten life without possibility of parole), then to the maximum for each of the other 22 charges for a total of 315 years.

Her sentencing recommendations followed and it seemed at first that she had caught a break from a suddenly sympathetic jury that might have decided to punish her husband severely but give her a slap on the wrist and the ability to stay free and mother her three children.

They recommended 10 years probation for each of the first two charges of furnishing contraband to inmates and the minimum — one year — for a third count. But from that point on, like her husband, the jury recommended the maximum sentence for all other convictions.

If her sentences were served consecutively — one after the other — she could have served 304 years.
As a first-time offender, she could have been sentenced to probation.

There was stunned silence at the defense table.

Both families, sitting behind them were in tears.

The defense has promised to appeal the verdict. Then the judge read the final recommendations from the jurors—that each defendant’s sentences run concurrently.

Formal sentencing will be at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and if Special Judge John Cole imposes the jury’s sentence, Jay Campbell could be eligible for parole after 10 years and his wife after three years and four months—that’s with time off for good behavior.

Cole refused Prosecutor Lona McCastlain’s request to revoke Jay Campbell’s bond as a flight risk. “I don’t think he’s a risk,” Cole said.

Kelly Campbell’s attorney, Mark Hampton called the sentences “absurd.”

Jay Campbell said the sentences didn’t disappoint him any more than the guilty verdicts that preceded them.
“Lonoke is well on its way back,” McCastlain said.