Defense contends man wasn't in control of events when Granville couple killed
Posted July 10
Updated 9:47 a.m. Thursday
Oxford, N.C. — A Texas man was under the sway of his father when they killed a Granville County couple almost three years ago, a defense attorney said Monday.
Eric Alexander Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, is charged with first-degree murder first-degree burglary, second-degree arson, robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, financial card theft, identity theft and two counts of cruelty to animals in the Dec. 31, 2014, deaths of Jerome Faulkner, 73, and his wife, Dora Faulkner, 62.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Authorities say Campbell and his father, Edward Watson Campbell, stormed into the Faulkners' home, robbed them, set fire to the house and killed them before fleeing in both the couple's Chevrolet Silverado and a stolen SUV.
"Innocence and security died in that community, in our county," Granville County Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps told jurors in her opening statement.
Police in Lewisburg, W.Va., arrested the father and son on New Year's Day following a shootout, and investigators found the Faulkners' bodies under a mattress in the back of the pickup.
Edward Campbell killed himself in March 2015 at Raleigh’s Central Prison, where he was being held.
Defense attorney William Durham told jurors in the opening of Eric Campbell's trial that his abusive and controlling father carried out the crime spree and that Eric Campbell was an unwilling participant.
"The evidence will show that, during this event, Eric Campbell was weak and scared. He was not mean and cruel," Durham said. "He learned how to stay safe from his father. He learned to be passive."
Capps countered that Eric Campbell took part in the entire series of events and needs to be held accountable.
"We believe that the evidence will show that the path that led to this was filled with deliberate decisions and conscious choices of this defendant," she told jurors.
Initial witnesses included several law enforcement officers from West Virginia who details how the Campbells were stopped and the Faulkners' bodies were discovered.
Durham got the officers to acknowledge that Eric Campbell never fired a shot during the incident, but Capps got them to add that he never warned officers about his father either.