Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TOP STORY >>Campbells sentenced

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Jay Campbell, the disgraced former Lonoke police chief, spent the first night of a 40-year prison sentence Tuesday night in a cell at the Correction Department’s Diagnostic Unit at Pine Bluff , while his wife Kelly was transported to the McPherson Unit, a women’s prison, at Newport to begin her 20-year sentence.

Special Circuit Judge John Cole Tuesday formally imposed the exact sentences recommended last week by the jury, but at least one of the jurors, who returned for Cole’s sentencing, told the prosecutor that the justice system didn’t work—that she had expected the Campbells to go to prison last week after the jury made its recommendation.

That jury recommended the maximum sentence for all but one of Jay Campbell’s 23 convictions and all but two of Kelly Campbell’s 26 convictions.

In all, his sentences would have added up to 315 years and hers to 304 years, but the jury recommended that all sentences run concurrently—at the same time.

With good behavior, Jay Campbell could be released after 10 years, Kelly Campbell after three years and four months.
Over the strenuous objection of Prosecutor Lona McCastlain, Cole ruled the Campbells were eligible for release on bond after their appeals are filed.

“They were in a position of trust,” said McCastlain. “They were leaders and community members and they will be going to church and see them every day. It’s a slap in people’s faces for them to go about their business like every other person.
“These people are trying to put their lives back together,” she said, referring to the victims.

“Why do you think more victims didn’t come forward?” she asked. She asked that the judge issue a no-contact order to keep the Campbells away from former friends and victims.

Kelly Campbell’s lawyer, Mark Hampton, has already filed a new motion for a directed verdict of not guilty and asked for a new trial.

“This case is full of more errors than any 10 cases I’ve seen combined,” Hampton said.

He said he believed that Patrick Benca, Jay Campbell’s lead attorney, would file a similar motion this week. Then Cole will hold a hearing, perhaps next Tuesday, according to Hampton, on the motion for a new trial. If the judge rules no new trial is in order, then Hampton and Benca could file notice of intent to appeal, at which point the Campbells would be eligible to bond out if they can raise the money.

Each Campbell had been held on a $50,000 bond, but Cole raised Jay Campbell’s bail to $200,000 and Kelly Campbell’s to $100,000.

Deputy Prosecutor Stuart Cearley argued that if the Campbells could afford those bonds, that they must not be indigent and eligible for continued court-ordered representation by these lawyers.

Prison spokesman Dina Tyler said she didn’t remember having another former police chief in the prison population, but she said, “He won’t be the first lawman we’ve had.”

Campbell will be in a cell alone during processing at the diagnostic center, where prison officials decide where to house a prisoner, Tyler said.

After that, he could be placed in administrative segregation or protective custody, she said.

“Another option is the interstate compact agreement among states,” she said. If necessary, he could be moved to another state.

At McCastlain’s request, the Campbells were ordered to undergo drug-urine screens, but Kelly Campbell, who is convicted of repeatedly stealing prescription drugs, reportedly was unable to urinate at the Cabot Annex bathroom.
Hampton said he was confident the only drugs to be found in her urine screen would be her multiple-sclerosis medication.
“Her MS has flared up,” he said. In his motion, filed Friday, Hampton said he asked for “every sort of relief.”
He said he was preserving the record on all issues for appeal.

The prosecutors drew a picture of the Campbells as a team that preyed on friends, fellow church members and people in ill health or recovering from surgery. Jay Campbell, a charming and likable man by all accounts, would routinely visit with them while his wife rummaged through kitchen or bathroom cabinets for prescription narcotics.

Charles McLemore, the State Police investigator who compiled most of the information that led to the Campbell’s arrests, said he would retire in October and that this may have been his last investigation.

“It was almost two years,” said McLemore, calling it the worst abuse by a lawman in his 12 years as a lawman.
“It’s good to go out on a victory,” he said.

Jackie and Donna Moore, who were prosecution witnesses, victims and former friends of the Campbells, attended the sentencing, but had no comment.

Roger Light, the former firefighter and methamphetamine user who testified regarding Jay Campbell’s charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, sat in the courtroom for the formal sentencing. He said the judge and jury got it right.
Before her sentencing, Cole asked Kelly Campbell if she had anything to say. “No, your honor.” He then sentenced her to 20 years of each of nine residential burglaries, 10 years for each of nine charges of obtaining a controlled substance by theft and various other charges.

Jay Campbell was sentenced to 40 years as the kingpin of a continuing criminal enterprise, 30 years for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, 20 years for each of six counts of residential burglary, 10 years for each of seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and various other drug or theft related charges.

Benca told the judge that he was concerned about the reason that one juror was excused from the trial and wanted to question that juror prior to filing an appeal.

Still to be tried in connection with this case are former Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett, charged with misdemeanor theft of services for having Act 309 jail trustees hang his Christmas lights and work on a faulty air conditioner; former dispatcher Amy Staley, charged with having sex with an inmate; bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox, accused to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise and intimidating a witness, and bail bondsman Larry Norwood, charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Ron (Bear) Tyler, a prosecution witness, testified in the absence of the jury that Cox had solicited him to kill the prosecutor and a witness and that Norwood was involved as well, but so far no additional charges related to that solicitation have been filed against the bail bondsmen. Linda Ives, whose son Kevin was one of two teenagers found dead on the tracks after having been struck by a train nearly 20 years ago, greeted the Campbells and court watchers with a placard and her son’s picture at about 8 a.m. in the parking lot.

Various conspiracy theorists have linked the boys’ deaths to Jay Campbell, former Saline County Prosecutor Dan Harmon and to then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

Officially that case has never been solved. Campbell won a civil case, clearing his name.