Every facet of the trial moved quickly, starting with jury selection. Judge Jeffrey Burdette kept the process moving until selection concluded around 6 p.m. last Tuesday, a day ahead of expectations, and opening statements were heard Wednesday morning.
While the commonwealth built its case on eyewitness testimony, crime scene evidence and statements from the perpetrators themselves, the defense seemingly hung its hope on discrediting the testimony of the first man convicted in the case, Matthew Tolson. Surprisingly, when the commonwealth rested its case against Campbell last Friday, defense attorney Ed Woolsey didn't call any new witnesses. Burdette sent the jurors home for the weekend to return Monday for closing arguments.
In his final defense of Campbell, Woolsey focused on Tolson's testimony, reiterating the facts that it was Campbell who gave Tolson's name to the Kentucky State Police, and that Tolson's testimony against Campbell, Neccolus Mundy, Deonte Simmons and Charles Smith was extracted on the basis of a plea deal. Tolson has not yet been sentenced, but in October he was promised a 20-year sentence in return for his cooperation in the prosecution of the remaining four.
Maintaining Campbell's claim that he thought he was simply going to Hubble to buy drugs, and remained in the car with the money, Woolsey told the jury that no one but Tolson put Campbell inside the trailer the night of the murders. Campbell's attorney discounted an eyewitness statement that "the tall guy" was carrying the rifle that killed Shangraw; Campbell is the tallest of the accused. Woolsey told the jury to disregard this saying they had to agree that, "If someone is standing over me with a rifle in my face, he's the biggest guy in the room."
Woolsey also speculated on interpretations of forensic evidence and made several references to physical evidence not taken from the crime scene, including a toy gun found in Shangraw's bedroom. Woolsey's speculations ultimately drew an objection from Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery when he claimed they weren't included because they didn't support the prosecutions case.
Montgomery used Campbell's taped interviews and his confessions to three different people that he "killed two white boys in Lincoln County" to dissect Woolsey's closing argument. Montgomery kept telling the jury that in cases of murder, it's "in for a penny, in for a pound." To be guilty of the lesser charge of wanton murder, the accused simply must be present, which Campbell admittedly was, but Montgomery told the jury, "That is the easy way out for you."
He admonished them that to ensure justice for the families they needed to convict Campbell of intentional murder, and that is what they did after two short hours of deliberation.
The remaining accused will be tried in July, and attorneys for two of the men have already said they would seek a change of venue claiming that it would be difficult to get a jury that has not formed an opinion on the case. The plan is to try the men together, but again, defense lawyers want them tried separately which would compound any problem in seating a jury.