Joseph H. Campbell, a reputed gang member charged with fatally shooting Naressa Turner last October in St. Paul, was found guilty Thursday afternoon by a Ramsey County jury.
A jury convicted Joseph H. Campbell Thursday afternoon of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the shooting death of Naressa Turner.
About 30 of Turner’s family members and friends sighed in relief, sniffed and quietly clapped when the verdict was read. Campbell shook his head side to side, and his attorney, Murad Mohammad, later said that he maintains his innocence.
Ramsey County district court judge Judith Tilsen immediately sentenced Campbell, 20, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jury returned its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberation.
Turner’s mother, Odessa Turner, spoke briefly to the judge before sentencing.
“This was senseless,” Odessa Turner said. “Whatever you do, please remember that this was a senseless murder.”
Campbell declined to speak on his own behalf.
“It has been very difficult to listen to the evidence,” Tilsen said to Campbell. “I’m a little speechless. I don’t know what to say other than this is tragic.”
The jury begin deliberations Wednesday afternoon. Earlier that day, during closing arguments, assistant Ramsey County attorney David Miller had presented a timeline of events, boosted by surveillance video photos, in an attempt to rule out the possibility that friends or associates of Campbell’s could have been the shooter.
Defense attorney Murad Mohammad had raised the possibility that another man shot the 20-year-old woman, a man witnesses described as light-skinned. Campbell is dark-complected.
Authorities believe Turner was killed because her ex-roommate, LeShae Jones, said on Facebook that Turner set up the February 2012 murder of Dominic Neeley, who police say was a member of the East Side Boyz gang. Police identify Campbell, 20, as an East Side Boyz member and believe
Turner’s murder is connected to the gang’s feud with the Selby Siders gang.
Turner had been affiliated with both gangs. “Naressa Turner, like a lot of human beings, had different sides,” Miller said, showing a photo of Turner with her daughter. “She was a complex person, but she had dreams ... and she had a family.”
Miller presented a timeline depicted in surveillance images taken at a gas station, corner store, private residence’s security camera and a traffic camera that provided one of the clearest narratives of many players’ whereabouts on Oct. 14. It showed Campbell at a Super USA station wearing a white mask on his head and then on his face 45 minutes before Turner was shot as she sat in an SUV. Witnesses said the shooter wore a mask.
A traffic camera depicted a car belonging to Delandez Williamson at 2:14 p.m. at E. 7th and Arcade Streets. That’s about a half-mile from the alley where Turner was shot at least nine times. The first 911 call was made at 2:15 p.m.
Mohammad had tried to raise the possibility that Williamson, Neeley’s best friend, was the shooter. No witnesses placed Campbell at the scene at the time of the shooting, Campbell was not friends with Neeley and a witness testified that Williamson’s car drove through the alley just before the shooting, he told the jury. Williamson is light-skinned and the same height as the shooter, Mohammad said.
“There are missed connections in this case,” he said Wednesday before citing several other points.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib