Texas man convicted in robbery, deaths of Granville couple
Posted August 28
Oxford, N.C. — After almost a month off, jurors on Monday quickly found a Texas man guilty of robbing and killing a Granville County couple almost three years ago.
Eric Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, was found guilty 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.
Campbell showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. Meanwhile, his aunt, Sherri Barnes, wept in the courtroom, and the Faulkners' sons hugged one another and prosecutors.
"This day has been a long time coming," the Faulkner family said in a statement. "It is hard for us to find any joy in this situation. We are ready to move forward with our lives, taking the memory of Jerome and Dora with us."
Barnes said she remains certain that her nephew isn't guilty of the crimes.
"These were wonderful people. They were the best kind of people in our community," Granville County District Attorney Mike Waters said of the Faulkners. "As I look over here at the children, it is just a tragedy that this happened. But we are going to do what is necessary to finish this."
Finishing the case – deciding whether Campbell will be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole – will entail yet another delay, however.
Less than 20 minutes into the sentencing hearing Monday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Henry Hight decided that portion of the trial needed to be postponed for at least a week.
Defense attorney William Durham said some of his witnesses are from the Houston area, and he's unsure when they would be able to come to North Carolina as he hasn't talked to them since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas over the weekend. An expert witness for the defense also is tied up in other trials, he said.
"This is an extremely important case, and Mr. Campbell certainly has the right to get the witnesses here that have that awareness," Durham said.
He said he thinks he could present evidence as early as a week from Tuesday, but Hight said he's wary about starting then because flooding in Texas is expected to get worse in the coming days and Labor Day travel would complicate flying people to North Carolina. The judge said Sept. 11 is a more likely restart date for the trial, but he plans to meet with prosecutors and defense attorneys on Wednesday to get a better handle on the schedule.
The six hours of jury deliberations in the case was divided by a hiatus of more than three weeks. 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.
On Monday morning, she told Hight that she was recovered and was ready to proceed with deliberations. Campbell's attorneys asked that she be dismissed and a mistrial declared, saying her skittishness and uncertainty over whether jurors had discussed the case during the off period raised questions about a fair trial, but Hight denied the motion.
Less than two hours later, the jury returned its guilty verdicts.
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.