A jury found reputed gang member Joseph H. Campbell guilty Thursday in last year’s fatal shooting of Naressa Turner in St. Paul.
Campbell, 20, who has lived in St. Paul and Chicago, was convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and a crime committed for the benefit of a gang.
Ramsey County District Court Judge Judith Tilsen immediately sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. “It has been very difficult to listen to the evidence,” she told Campbell. “I’m a little speechless. I don’t know what to say, other than this is tragic in every way.”
Authorities believe Campbell shot Turner, 20, on Oct. 14 in retaliation for the Feb. 12, 2012 murder of Dominic Neeley. Police had identified Campbell and Neeley as members of the East Side Boyz gang, which has a long-running, violent feud with the Selby Siders gang. Turner was affiliated with the East Side Boyz and then the Selby Siders, a witness said.
Turner’s former roommate, LeShae Jones, testified that she said on Facebook that Turner set up Neeley’s murder. Turner left for Atlanta to escape subsequent threats against her, but was killed in an alley in the 900 block of Reaney Avenue when she returned to St. Paul.
Campbell shook his head as the guilty verdicts were read, while two dozen of Turner’s family members and friends greeted them with sighs of relief. Campbell was acquitted of a fourth charge, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree.
“We hope that this conviction sends a strong message that gang violence will not be tolerated in our community,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. “This case should also serve as an important reminder to our community that we need to do more to prevent gang violence and make it more difficult for criminals to obtain guns.”
Turner’s mother, Odessa Turner, made a brief but emotional plea to Tilsen before Campbell was sentenced.
“Your honor, I have a 4-year-old grandbaby that asks me all the time about her mother,” Odessa Turner said. “Whatever you do, please remember that this was a senseless murder.”
Campbell declined to say anything on his own behalf before he was sentenced. His attorney, Murad Mohammad, said Campbell maintains his innocence.
Campbell’s mother, Margaret Daniels, attended the trial but said she couldn’t bear being in the courtroom when the verdicts were read.
“I think my son knows who did it, but he don’t want to tell on them because they’re gang members,” said Daniels. “They need to stop this gang stuff. It’s not worth it.”