Friends seek to spare life of man who killed Granville couple
Posted September 11
Oxford, N.C. — Friends on Monday described a Texas man facing a possible death sentence for robbing and killing a Granville County couple almost three years ago as generous and kind-hearted.
Eric Alexander Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, was found guilty last month of two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree arson, robbery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of cruelty to animals in the Dec. 31, 2014, deaths of Jerome Faulkner, 73, and his wife, Dora Faulkner, 62.
Prosecutors chose not to present any evidence during the sentencing portion the capital trial, so jurors will hear evidence only from the defense in the coming days in a bid to spare his life.
Campbell's childhood friend, Shane Warman, called Campbell "a better person than I am," noting how he checked on Warman's grandmother, cared for his young siblings and doted on Warman's infant son.
"I feel he was a better caregiver for them [Campbell's siblings] than I, at my best, could be for my kids," Warman testified.
Campbell served as best man at Warman's wedding and is godfather to his son, now 3.
"Eric is a good person," Warman said. "We all know him, and nothing that has happened has changed our opinion."
Warman's wife, Jennifer, also testified, calling Campbell her best friend and noting he could barely kill a mosquito, let alone a person.
"It's just not Eric to be violent," she said.
Chloe Sanders, Campbell's former girlfriend, likewise said he always was kind to her and others.
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.
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, leaving his son to face trial alone in the case.
Eric Campbell's defense argued throughout three weeks of testimony that Edward Campbell had committed the crimes and that Eric Campbell suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father, which left him incapable of standing up to his father and preventing the carnage in the Faulkners' home.
But prosecutors insisted that one person couldn't have inflicted all of the injuries the Faulkners suffered and that Eric Campbell made "conscious choices and deliberate decisions" to support his father before and after the killings.
Eric Campbell's defense attorneys also called several staffers from Central Prison, where he has been in a safe-keeping unit, to testify on his behalf Monday.
"He's not the typical inmate. He seems more like a college student," said Laura Brown, a nurse in the prison's mental health unit.
Corrections officer Frank Alvez said Campbell has been kind and respectful, and former inmate Jamielle Cotton said Campbell even befriended inmates who picked on him.
"I've got an eye for seeing people as who they really are, and I see Eric as a good person," Cotton said.
James Aiken, a veteran corrections official, said that, although he's concerned about Campbell's "vulnerabilities," he thought Campbell would do well behind bars if given a life sentence.
The sentencing hearing is expected to continue Tuesday.
The trial has been marked by several delays.
A woman on the jury initially asked to be excused from deliberations, causing a temporary halt to the case, and she later was involved in a car crash that required surgery and recovery time. After almost a month off, jurors returned on Aug. 28 to reach their guilty verdicts.
But Hurricane Harvey then delayed the sentencing phase, as some of the character witnesses for Campbell were from the Houston area and couldn't get to North Carolina for a while.