Leader Blues

Monday, January 21, 2008

TOP STORY >> Bondsmen appear at hearing

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Bail bondsmen Bobby Junior Cox and Larry Norwood, once codefendants in the sprawling Jay and Kelly Campbell drug, sex, theft and criminal enterprise trial, appeared before Special Judge John Cole in Lonoke Circuit Court on Friday on charges including conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Cox is also charged as a member the ongoing criminal enterprise charge that Jay Campbell was convicted of running.

This trial had been set to begin Monday, but Special Prosecutor Larry Jegley says he’s just getting up to speed on the case and the last of the 12,000-page transcript is yet to be transcribed. And on Dec. 12, Cox’s lawyer, John Wesley Hall, filed a motion to dismiss for double jeopardy, an inch-thick document. A trial date has now been tentatively set for early April.

Campbell, the former Lonoke police chief, was sentenced in April to 40 years in prison, his wife to 10 years, on numerous convictions.Pending appeal, Cole ordered the husband and wife to prison, where they are awaiting completion of transcripts and appointment of lawyers.

Although Cole dismissed Patrick Benca and Mark Hampton for the appeal process, the state Supreme Court has not yet dismissed them or appointed replacements.

The cases against Cox and Norwood have lingered while the transcript was being made, and Jegley just received the double jeopardy motion and needs time to reply.

Cole declared a mistrial in Cox’s case last year because a witness suddenly testified that Cox had solicited him to kill Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain and a star witness.

It was McCastlain’s possible involvement as a victim or a witness that led to the appointment of Jegley as special prosecutor.
Jegley has not made a decision on whether or not to try Cox and Norwood on the solicitation to commit capital murder, but that charge may rest solely upon the testimony of Ron “Bear” Tyler, a super-sized prosecution witness from the world of bounty hunters, felons, drugs and biker hit men, who either was lying through his unruly walrus moustache when he testified in the Campbell trial last year, or else Cox recruited him to kill McCastlain and star witness Ronald Adams and to burn down the Lonoke County Courthouse.

Both Cox and Norwood originally were charged with participating with the Campbells in an ongoing criminal enterprise, but Norwood’s case was severed from the others when the judge ruled his charges didn’t include the requisite components of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Cox, Norwood and Jay Campbell all were charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine as they allegedly sought to apply pressure to force a friend to reveal the whereabouts of another man who skipped out on an expensive bond.
Cole gave Jegley until Feb. 20 to file a response to Hall’s double-jeopardy motion and gave Hall until March 7 to respond.
He tentatively set a trial date of April 2, a date that’s likely to be changed several times.

Both sides seem to agree that whatever Cole’s decision on the issue of double jeopardy, it will ultimately be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Cole said if that happens, the Supreme Court probably would not review the appeal until after summer recess.

It’s too early to know whether or not Cox and Norwood will be tried together.

A large part of McCastlain’s case last year involved the use of 404(b) witnesses used to establish a propensity for crime but not directly related to the crime of continuing criminal enterprise itself. Jeff Rosenzweig, representing Norwood, asked Jegley to tell him which 404(b) crimes he would allege.

Special Prosecutor Jack McQuarry, who helped McCastlain prosecute the Campbells, was with Jegley on Friday and may assist in the prosecution.