Harold Campbell trial put on hold by Third Circuit

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 8:51 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Testimony was underway in the trial of Harold Campbell, charged with second-degree murder of his wife Edwina Campbell. But shortly after court broke for the day, the parties learned the Third Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a stay in the trial.

The issue before the Third Circuit was raised by defense attorney Todd Clemons earlier in the week and deals with questioning of potential jurors. Clemons says he was not allowed to adequately question potential jurors about responsive verdicts, which are when a jury finds someone guilty of a lesser offense than charged. For example, Campbell is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter is one of the lesser verdicts allowed.

The Third Circuit issued a ruling Wednesday that prosecution, defense and the court interpreted differently. So, Clemons went back to the appeal court seeking specifics on what action should be taken by the trial judge.

Clemons said he wanted to call back some prospective jurors already released for more questioning, in his words, “to more intelligently exercise his challenges to excuse jurors.”

Opening statements were delayed so the court reporter could provide a transcript of the discussion for the appeal court.

Once openings got underway, Assistant DA Charles Robinson told jurors Edwina Campbell was shot seven times by her drunken husband back in 2019.

Harold Campbell later explained his actions to police saying he “just couldn’t take it anymore.”

Robinson says Edwina had said she wanted a divorce. But, Clemons told jurors there’s more to the story and that Edwina was physically and verbally abusive to her husband.

Clemons did not deny Harold Campbell shot his wife but predicts the state will fail to prove he had specific intent to kill.

Later, the jury heard emotional testimony and 911 calls as the evidence part of the trial got underway.

Jurors heard recordings of Harold Campbell and testimony and recordings from the two young daughters of Edwina Campbell, his wife, whom he admits shooting to death.

There was sharp contrast between Harold Campbell’s statements and his young stepdaughters heard on recordings and 911 calls.

The young girls were heard screaming and wailing at the realization their mother had been shot multiple times and was dead, while Campbell is heard on a 911 call calmly telling the operator and police that he shot his wife and she was dead.

Later, while sitting in the back of a police car, Harold is heard expressing regret at having killed his wife and thus ruining his life, because he would, in his words, “go down the river and spend life in prison.”

The state was to continue putting on witnesses at 9 a.m., but now, everything is on hold until the Third Circuit rules. So, no word on when the trial may resume.

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