VALPARAISO — An attorney for former Hammond and Gary police officer Kevin Campbell told jurors Wednesday morning they will not hear from any eyewitnesses or be presented with any physical evidence linking her client to the murder of the mother of three of his children.
The case against Campbell is the product of a "rush to judgment" linking him to the Nov. 18, 2015, shooting death of 30-year-old Tiara Thomas at her Portage apartment, defense attorney Susan Severtson argued.
But Porter County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said there is plenty of evidence, beginning with the fact that the couple's relationship had deteriorated to the point of a "contentious breakup" and Campbell's child support obligation was increased to $1,400 a month shortly before the killing.
"It was ruining his life," Frost said of the 33-year-old Campbell, who has remarried and had another child.
Prosecutors began rolling out their evidence against Campbell during the first day of his murder trial before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.
Campbell had picked up his three children from Thomas the day before her death and had them stay overnight with him in Hobart, which was unusual, Frost said during opening arguments. He had also asked his son days earlier for a key to the Park Place Apartment where the children lived with Thomas and was asking about the work schedule of a man living with Thomas.
Police also discovered that at 5:34 a.m. on the day of the killing, Campbell's cellphone had registered at a cell tower not far from where Thomas lived, Frost said.
"That's the connection," he said. "But he told police he never left (home)."
Campbell's home security system also registered his doors opening a couple times beginning at 3:30 a.m. on the day of the shooting, Frost said.
While Campbell told police he took his son straight to school on the day in question, his son later told investigators his father stopped at Columbus Park in Lake Station and discarded a bag containing shoes.
"So we have lie, lie, lie, lie," Frost said.
Defense counters evidence
Severtson said there was a reason Campbell did not get all the facts correct.
"He was distraught," she said. "He was crying. He was in a state of disbelief."
Campbell, however, did cooperate with police by agreeing to be interviewed, allowing a search of his home, offering his clothes and agreeing to a gunshot residue test of his body that was never done.
"Because he, ladies and gentlemen, had absolutely nothing to hide," Severtson told jurors.
She dismissed the claims about tracking Campbell's cellphone by saying there are 39 cell towers within a radius of just under 10 miles of where Thomas was shot, and none picked up on him coming or going.
The doors of his home were opened overnight because one of his children was sick and he was placing dirty diapers outside, Severtson said, and it was just trash dropped off at the park.
"There were no shoes," she said.
Severtson said Campbell and Thomas had known each other since elementary school and had been in a relationship for 14 years.
"He loved her deeply," she said.