Judge gives change of venue to Campbell

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Southeast Missourian

JACKSON, Mo. -- Defense counsel for Gregory Campbell said excessive publicity will make difficult for his client to get a fair trial in Cape Girardeau County.

Appearing Tuesday before Associate Circuit Court Judge Scott Thomsen, attorney Stephen C. Wilson asked that Campbell's trial be moved out of the Southeast Missourian's newspaper circulation area.

Wilson asked Thomsen to remove the case from Southeast Missouri entirely.

"We would like to see the case go north of Ste. Genevieve," Wilson said. He said he preferred St. Louis or St. Louis County.

Assistant prosecuting attorney Lora Cooper objected, suggesting Butler or New Madrid counties. Thomsen selected Caruthersville, Mo., which is in Pemiscot County on the Tennessee border.

Campbell was a key figure in a June 1999 incident that sparked a riot on Good Hope Street and strained police relations in south Cape Girardeau.

Though Campbell was acquitted of charges of assaulting a police officer, the case drew substantial news coverage from the Southeast Missourian and the local television station.

In addition, writers for Time magazine addressed the issue in evaluating race relations in the city.

Wilson said since the prior charges against Campbell are mentioned in current news coverage, a local jury might pre-judge his client.

Now, Campbell faces charges in two separate but related cases.

The first case alleges Campbell delivered cocaine to a confidential informant on Oct. 7, 1999.

The informant, Lewis Curry, testified at a Feb. 4 hearing that Campbell fronted him an ounce of cocaine to sell and expected $1,100 in return.

When Curry returned a week later with the money, he was wired by the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force and held a recorded conversation with Campbell.

More than two years later, an arrest warrant was issued for Campbell.

On Jan. 3, Campbell was arrested on the warrant and police said Campbell was caught with a quarter-pound of marijuana, which is the basis for the second case. Police report they also found a digital scale in the car as well as a small amount of cocaine in Campbell's wallet.

His 1997 GMC Suburban was seized and forfeiture action filed because the vehicle was allegedly used to transport drugs.

In all, Campbell is charged with trafficking cocaine, a class B felony; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a class B felony; possession of cocaine, a class C felony.

Each class B felony carries a range of punishment of 5-15 years in prison. The class C felony carries a range of 1-7 years in prison or 1 day to a year in the county jail with fines not to exceed $5,000.

Campbell is free on $55,000 in bonds.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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