Update, February 24, 2000
Two Part Update:
See PART TWO, "Witnesses" by Linda Ives
By Jean Duffey
Turns out that Jay Campbell isn't the "great guy," the "good Christian," the "caring person," the "trusted officer," etc., etc., etc., attested to by FBI Agent Mike Smith and another ten or so law enforcement officers at trial last summer. Now we understand why not one officer from Campbells own department (The Pulaski County Sheriffs Department) testified for him as a character witness. They apparently know Campbells real character, but that didn't bother Mike.
Seems Mike's pal, Jay Campbell has been intimidating fellow officers and falsifying department records. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Campbell was fired for compiling "a blacklist of deputies who worked off-duty jobs for less than the office's recommended minimum pay rate" of $25 an hour. Campbell "attempted to enforce these minimum pay rates on deputies . . . through intimidation and the use of (his) authority by virtue of (his) rank . . . ."
Surely Mike's good buddy was just trying to uphold high standards for the department. Fraid not. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says, "at the same time Campbell published the blacklist, he was working off-duty (himself) at the Little Rock Convention Center for less than $25 an hour." Seems Mike's colleague is no more than a thug with double standards.
Mike's friend also has no qualms about lying. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says, Campbell approved "employment for four deputies at the Planet Earth nightclub. Department policy forbids deputies from working off-duty at bars," so Campbell falsified the officers requests by characterizing the nightclub as "a restaurant."
A liar is a liar is a liar, but with so many impressive character witnesses at trial vouching for his veracity, Linda and I couldn't get the jury to see the real Jay Campbell. We also had numerous affidavits attesting to Campbell and his former partner, Kirk Lane, using violent threats and intimidation against witnesses. We tried to get the evidence introduced, but the judge disallowed it as being too prejudicial. Some of the affidavits were sworn to by witnesses who had no reason what-so-ever to do anything but simply come forward with the truth. The jury heard little else about the character of Campbell and Lane than what the string of seemingly upstanding, forthright law enforcement officers had to say about the flawless virtues of their cronies.
A Then and Now Recap:
Then, a parade of public officials testified as character witnesses for Dan Harmon when his law license was suspended. They were later proven to be either fools or liars. The same is now true for the character witnesses for Campbell. (I would especially like to know which Mike Smith claims to be, a fool or a liar. If anyone finds out, please let me know.) Then, Harmon was vigorously protected by State Drug Czar Robert Shepherd, who pretended to me that he wanted Harmon indicted. Shepherd requested a meeting with me, asking for information my task force had developed, but I already knew Shepherd's real intentions and gave him nothing. Now, Campbell has and is being protected by the FBI, particularly Mike Smith. Smith sat in on an FBI meeting with Linda and me, when we asked them to protect an eyewitness that can identify Campbell and Lane as the hands-on killers of Kevin and Don. We didn't learn until the trial that Smith was a close friend of Campbell. (Smith's presence at the meeting was so remarkably inappropriate, there should be no doubt left in anybody's mind that the FBI lacks even a shred of integrity.)
Then, Harmon enjoyed impunity for such a long time that his behavior became too blatant to ignore. Apparently Campbell has now suffered the same fate. Then, Harmon was finally indicted, tried, and convicted but for much lesser offenses than he could or should have been. Now it is virtually impossible to believe that a 17-year veteran of the Pulaski County Sheriffs Department was fired for the reasons being reported if his record is otherwise clean.
Other Evidence The Jury Did Not Get To Hear:
The jury never got to hear the testimony of the eyewitness who can identify Campbell and Lane as the killers. During the summer of 1998, Linda and I discovered that the state police went to great lengths to discredit a purported eyewitness to the murders. His name is Ronnie Godwin, and if a jury ever hears his testimony, they will know that Campbell and Lane are the killers. (See PART TWO, "Witnesses")
We had to give Godwin up during depositions so we went immediately to the FBI to ask for protection for him. Little did we know we were asking Campbell's cohort to protect Godwin.
The attorney for Campbell and Lane contacted Godwin, and asked him if he had, indeed, identified Campbell and Lane to Linda and me as the cops he saw that night. When Godwin said he had not, the attorney got Godwin to sign an affidavit to that effect. The attorney then subpoenaed Godwin to testify at trial.
The affidavit didn't worry us. We knew that to Godwins way of thinking, he had been truthful on the affidavit. He never actually said the names to us. On our first meeting with Godwin, Linda asked him point-blank; "Were the police officers you saw kill the boys Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane?" Godwin said, "I refuse to answer that question." Linda said, "Ronnie, you just did. If it hadn't been them, you wouldn't have had a problem saying so." From that point, we always spoke of the incident with the understanding that we all knew what he meant.
We talked to Godwin the day before trial was to begin. We wanted to know what he was going to say when the attorney for Campbell and Lane asked him if he could identify the police officers he saw that night.
Godwin said, "I'm going to answer him the same way I answered you." "How's that," I asked. He said, "I'm going to say that I refuse to answer that question." I said that their attorney is apparently sure that he either can't or won't identify his clients and may press for an answer. Godwin said, "Campbell and Lane will not want him to do that." That's all Linda and I wanted to hear. If their attorney didn't press, then ours would. Linda and I felt certain that Campbell and Lane were finally going to be identified as the killers.
Monday morning, the witnesses were escorted to the witness room, including Linda and Godwin. I was allowed to sit at counsel table. One after another, the character witnesses for Campbell and Lane paraded to the stand. By the end of the first day, the jury had heard hours of testimony from Arkansas's finest who simply couldn't sing the praises of Campbell and Lane enough. The jury had made up their minds, and the wild tales of a scorned prosecutor and a bereaved mother were not going to convince them otherwise. I could see it in their faces, but I was comfortable. Godwin would take the stand the next day and after 12 years, the tide would forever turn.
We talked to Godwin that night, and he was ready. Tuesday morning, I was waiting in the hall for our boxes of files to be delivered when Godwin rushed up. I have never seen anyone fit the description "wild-eyed" more accurately. He asked if I had someone to follow him that morning. I replied, "No. Why?"
Godwin described someone in a white truck sitting across the street when he left his house. He said the driver was talking on a radio and deliberately being obvious about following him. Godwin said, "I think it was intended as a message, and I got it loud and clear." I told Godwin to go to the witness room and I'd come talk to him. Once I had our files in place, I headed for the witness room. Godwin nearly ran over me leaving. He said, "They've released me and I'm going home to my family." I said, "Ronnie, we need you to testify for us. Can I see you tonight?" He said, "yes" as he rushed away.
Campbell and Lane took the stand that morning and played the part of two falsely-accused, horribly-defamed, victims. Our attorney got them to admit they had subpoenaed a purported eyewitness to the murders and then released him, but that was all the jury got to hear about our star witness's disappearance, and disappear he did.
Linda and I flew out of the courtroom that evening to find Godwin, but his sister said he was gone and she didn't expect he'd be back. Our attorney hired an investigator to look for him throughout the remainder of the trial, but he was not found.
Our attorney argued that we should be able to explain to the jury the facts surrounding Godwins disappearance, but the judge disallowed it as hearsay. The best Linda and I could do was explain to the jury that Godwin was a credible witness who could identify Campbell and Lane, but his glaring absence without explanation was too damaging. From there, our testimony must have sounded like the rantings of two unstable women, particularly when I tried to explain the ties Campbell had to Dan Lasater and that Lasater was a major drug trafficker rather than a mere "recreational distributor" as reported by the media.
Clearly, Campbell and Lane were not going to be pegged the killers, but the trial was not lost at that point. To win the law suit, the plaintiffs had to show that Pat Matrisciana acted with reckless disregard for the truth by naming Campbell and Lane as suspects in the murders. That would not have been possible if John Brown had testified truthfully, but he didn't. He testified that he never considered Campbell and Lane to be suspects and warned Pat not to name them in the video.
Brown was telling a bald-faced lie, and Linda and I were prepared to crucify him with a recording of him admitting otherwise and with a dozen witnesses who would testify he was lying. Pat and our attorney, however, visited Brown before the trial, and Brown convinced them he was going to straighten everything out when he got on the stand. I vehemently warned Pat that we had to be ready to impeach Brown's testimony, but Pat felt like I was "being too emotional" and my "ability to make good decisions was clouded." I have to admit, that I flew into a rage at that point, trying to persuade our attorney to see it my way. However, Pat was his client, and I was ignored. That was the nail that sealed our coffin.
We were hopeful the judge would overturn the verdict, but his written decision was primarily based on John Brown's testimony. He felt the jury was reasonable to believe that Brown warned Pat, and that Pat acted with reckless disregard for ignoring him. Since we introduced absolutely nothing at trial to negate Brown's lies, we are left with little or nothing upon which to base an appeal and will likely lose there also.
Although we lost another round, we have seen that in time the truth has a way of
surfacing. I can wait.