Local News

Texas man gets life sentence for robbing, killing Granville couple

Posted September 13, 2017 3:19 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— A Granville County jury on Wednesday spared the life of a Texas man who robbed and killed a local couple almost three years ago.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before unanimously deciding to recommend a sentence of life in prison without parole for Eric Alexander Campbell.

Last month, the jury found Campbell, 24, of Alvin, Texas, 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.

Juror Isaiah Cortez-Beavers said after the sentencing that a death sentence would have been too harsh.

"He’s stuck either way in there [prison]. So, if he has a longer imprisonment, he can do some kind of good in there," Cortez-Beavers said, "or people can go ahead and make his life hell in there."

Campbell showed no emotion when the jury's recommendation was announced, and he declined to say anything before he was sentenced.

"When you and your father participated in these horrible murders here in Granville County, you left a big hole in Granville County that's going to be felt for generations," Superior Court Judge Henry Hight told Campbell. "Two of the really good people in the world, who made a difference, are dead.

"You're from Texas, and if this had been committed in Texas, you'd have been tried, convicted and executed," Hight said. "You need to thank God and this jury and the fact that you're in North Carolina that your life has been spared."

The Faulkner family declined to make a statement in court, but they said later that they feel justice was served.

"The Faulkner children and their families, they need this closure and the time to grieve and to move on and to remember the wonderful folks that their parents were," Granville County Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps said. "This is a tough case. It’s a tough case all the way around."

Campbell's lawyers said they would appeal the guilty verdicts.

"We’re certainly glad the jury returned a verdict of life. but Eric, from the very first time I met him, vigorously maintained his innocence," defense attorney William Durham said. "We maintain his innocence throughout the trial, and we will continue to fight for his innocence."

Random crime shook rural community

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.

Cortez-Beavers said he agreed with the prosecution's stance that Edward Campbell didn't act alone in killing the Faulkners. He said he he was initially sympathetic toward Eric Campbell because they are about the same age, but that changed during Campbell's testimony.

"When he said, 'I thought we were going to go rob them,' I was like, 'You just gave it away there, boss.' There's no way," Cortez-Beavers said. "I was like, 'I have no feelings for you now, boss.'"

In addition to his life sentences for murder, Campbell was sentenced to 64 to 89 months in prison for burglary, another 64 to 89 months for robbery, 13 to 25 months for arson and two sentences of six to 17 months for animal cruelty. All of the sentences will run consecutive to his life sentence.

Durham said Campbell "is struggling with the verdict" but will keep moving forward.

"The next steps are to keep fighting, to keep trying to find another court that will give him relief," Durham said.

North Carolina has executed anyone since 2006. The last person sentenced to death was Antwan Anthony, who was convicted last year of killing three convenience store employees in Farmville in 2012.