Local News

Defense expert: Accused killer too frightened of father to act

Posted July 24

— The Texas man accused of robbing and killing a Granville County couple with his father almost three years ago was paralyzed by fear of his father and was powerless to stop the crime, a psychiatrist testified 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.

Jerome Faulkner, Dora Faulkner, slain Granville County couple

Authorities say Campbell and his father, Edward Watson Campbell, stormed into the Faulkners' home in northern Granville County, robbed them, killed them and set fire to the house before fleeing in both the couple's Chevrolet Silverado and a stolen SUV.

Eric Campbell insisted during testimony last week that his father killed the Faulkners and that he was outside their home in northern Granville County during much of the attack.

"He was horrified by the nature of the events that he had witnessed. He was horrified that he had not been able to do anything to intervene," Dr. Ayesha Chaudhary, a clinical associate in Duke University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, testified Monday. "He was very self-critical, not only about these events in particular, but he also blamed himself as being a terrible person who had never been able to stand up to his father."

Edward Campbell had abused his son physically and emotionally for years, so much so that Eric Campbell developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a child, Chaudhary said.

Earlier Monday, Eric Campbelll's childhood friend, Shane Warman, told jurors how controlling and violent Edward Campbell could be.

"He'd punch holes in the wall, kick holes in the wall, throw furniture, break things," Warman testified, noting that Eric Campbell was beaten down over time. "It was immediate, to do whatever Ed said to do."

Linda LaMotte, Edward Campbell's former live-in girlfriend, said she is still scarred by the two years she spent with him.

"I can't breathe sometimes when I talk about it," LaMotte said.

She detailed various ways Edward Campbell would discipline his son, from forcing him to stand at attention and march to beating him if he didn't follow orders.

"He tossed him up in the air and snatched his feet or his ankles and jolted him around and then slung him across the room, probably a good 12, 15 feet," LaMotte said.

Chaudhary said the father-son relationship was so warped that, by the time Eric Campbell was an adult, he could do nothing to stop the carnage his father unleashed inside the Faulkners' home.

"Being incapacitated by the chronic effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, that when faced with the events of that night, he was unable to have the ability to exercise appropriate judgment or caution," she testified. "He was basically in survival mode."

Police in Lewisburg, W.Va., arrested the Campbells on Jan. 1, 2015, following a shootout, and investigators found the Faulkners' bodies under a mattress in the back of the pickup.

Edward Campbell killed himself two months later in Raleigh’s Central Prison.

Prosecutors noted Chaudhary didn't question Eric Campbell about some facts of the case and didn't review other evidence, suggesting that she developed her conclusions to fit her PTSD diagnosis.

"Any conclusions I come to are based on clinical interview and information as well as collateral information as well as the use of standardized rating instruments," she said.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all