About an hour after her son was convicted Thursday of fatally shooting a woman in St. Paul last year, Margaret Daniels was shifting uneasily in her home, bracing for more violence.
“Right now some guy just walked past my house, looked at my house, and then he walked through my alley and looked in my windows and stuff,” said an anxious Daniels. “More deaths are going to happen.”
Daniel’s son, Joseph H. Campbell, 20, had just been convicted of first- and second-degree murder and of a crime committed for the benefit of a gang in Ramsey County District Court. He’d been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
As his conviction and sentencing played out, about 10 officers and sheriff’s deputies stood watch in a packed courtroom, a nod to the extreme violence that pervades the lives of many young people wrapped up in the case, and to the possibility that things might not cool off anytime soon.
Security was heightened as Campbell was tried in the murder of Naressa Turner, 20. Authorities believe he shot Turner because of rumors that she set up the February 2012 murder of Dominic Neeley, and that it was linked to a feud between the East Side Boyz and Selby Siders gangs. Police say Neeley and Campbell are East Side Boyz members. A witness said Turner had been affiliated with both.
Witnesses testified about violence with heartbreaking nonchalance, exposing a side of St. Paul that many people don’t see, or choose to ignore.
“[Turner] tried to stab me, and I took the knife and stabbed her,” said Turner’s former friend and roommate LeShae Jones. “That’s not a fight.”
Before reaching its verdict, the jury asked Ramsey County District Judge Judith Tilsen an unusual question: “If we came to a verdict today, would it be read in open court today?” No explanation was given, but Campbell’s attorney, Murad Mohammad, said it was possibly linked to safety concerns also expressed during jury selection.
“It’s a reasonable concern,” said Mohammad, who as a precaution was escorted out of the courthouse by two officers.