Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shawn Campbell's Journey to Justice: Hearing finished

Today, I was at the court hearing of Shawn's that was supposed to be the process of showing that his previous lawyer Bill Kelly was not only ineffective counsel but also that he did not ever once, make Shawn aware of the two letters (from inmate incarcerated at the prison at that time) which were sent to the District Attorney's office forewarning of a "murder for hire" plot that was going around Wende Correctional Facility prior to the murder of Rhonda Bilby in September of 2004.

I am sorry to say that the whole morning seemed to be a waste of time for everyone and that very little was accomplished in Shawn's favor.  I'll explain why...

The first witness called by Shawn's lawyer, Mr. Baxter, was Christopher Lian, an officer with the Steuben County Jail, where Shawn was housed for some time before his case went to trial. The focus of the line of questioning was that a visitors record is kept as to who comes to see a particular inmate at the jail...however, it was learned that there are times that professionals aren't asked to log in because perhaps they are known to the particular guard on duty who essentially lets them through. The purpose here was to refute Shawn's previous lawyer's statement that the had visited Shawn numerous times prior to trial. A fact, which although was not proven in court today, was he had not...and I know this as the lawyer was on the phone with me several times a week prior to trial.

A.D.A. Brooks Baker was called to the stand next, and was questioned about whether there was in fact any DNA evidence found on the instrument that was deemed to be the murder weapon, and he went off on a tangent about technical stuff that most of us don't understand, when a yes or no answer was all that was needed. Eventually, when re-questioned...the answer came back "No" there was no conclusive evidence of DNA belonging to Shawn or Ronda Bilby on the instrument according to the New York State Forensic's Lab.

Next, Shawn was called to the verify some points regarding the issues of the letters and whether he had knowledge of them before the trial...which we all know that he did not.

The next witness called by the defense, was Shawn's previous lawyer who the hearing is primarily regarding, Mr. Kelly. Throughout this period of questioning by Mr. Baxter, Mr. Kelly repeated his previous testimony that he had hand-delivered copies of the original letters sent to the D.A.'s office regarding the murder for hire plot and that he and the Assistant D.A., Brooks Baker, had a private conference with Shawn to discuss the use of the letters, if Shawn so chose...which is a lie, as no such conference ever took place.  I would have known. (Mr. Kelly had a big mouth then...too eager to put this case behind him a.s.a.p.)

Mr. Baxter was going to put Shawn back on the stand to do a rebuttal on what Mr. Kelly had testified to, but D.A. Tunney objected and Judge Latham agreed with the next witness, and the final one for the day was Joe Valley, Shawn's lawyer that stepped away from the case just a few months ago. 

The line of questioning continued with when he found out about the letters and about some other details regarding the letters to the authenticity. Unfortunately, at this point...there were tempers beginning to flare...and just before noon, the judge ordered the two lawyers to submit their closing arguments to him and they only had a week to do it. Court was then adjourned...the hearing is done. The judge will now decide on the matter.

From the moment court went into session...every question either Mr. Baxter asked or started to ask, D.A. Tunny objected to, and the judge sustained. All Mr. Baxter had to do was get one or two words out and Tunney was up and by the time that Mr. Valley got on the stand...everyone's tempers were flaring...mine included. (I made the comment to the reporters sitting next to me that this was nothing more than a kangaroo court!  It was so totally absurd!) 

Tunny felt questions were too broad, weren't rebuttal material, had already been brought out in previous court hearings...he had a reason for every objection, whether in fact it was proper law procedure or not. (I can't say because I am not a lawyer.)

Tonight, I have no idea how Shawn must be feeling but in my own opinion, I don't think court went all that well today. I have the distinct impression--call it a gut feeling--that the judge has already decided this hearing...and all the efforts of those involved are nothing more than time wasted. I still believe that the judge should have recused himself when asked to, as well as this moved to another venue outside of this county. It's probably the ONLY way Shawn can get any real justice.

Here is the news clip from tonight:

Thanks for reading!

**Disclaimer:  This is my interpretations of the events in court today...and my opinions (even though I am also voicing the opinions of others in the courtroom today).


  1. I just don't understand how so many other inmates can file differant claims to differant courts and get new trials, but Shawn can't. Isn't it possible to take it to a higher court? There was a man on tv, that has spent over 30 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit and he had a lawyer who fought for him to get a new trial and he was found innocent and his record was just cleared so he can now vote, carry a gun etc.

  2. Deb I am so sorry it doesn't seem to have gone well today. YOu and Shawn must be feeling very discouraged.
    I do hope and pray that the next time in court will go much better.
    Love ya

  3. This whole process is to work toward getting Shawn a new trial. There were some points that did have to be proven to get to that point. We will see how it goes.

    Thanks, Carlos!

    Cynthia...I am not happy with what I saw yesterday in court, but since I don't understand the process, I am not going to give up. Let's just keep praying for him!

  4. Susan Betzitomir, Mr. Baxter's law partner wrote this on Facebook:

    "I think you are right about Tunney and his objections, but you have to remember this was not a retrial of the whole case. The appellate division sent it down for one issue only. Did Shawn's lawyer tell him about the letters? Mr. Baxter proved Shawn was in Wende while his old lawyer Bill Kelly was claiming he was visiting him all regularly at the Steuben County jail from march to the October trial. Then he showed that Shawn didn't even have any discovery information or letters in August, that Kelly didn't see him until trail time and that he thus could Not have showed him the letters, since Kelly previously admitted he only talked about the letters in passing at trial. The papers they have to submit are written closing arguments, so they have time to think. The hearing wasn't adjourned. Its over. The Judge will let us know what he decides, then it goes back to the Appellate division. Then the Appellate Division decides."

  5. So very stressful! And it sounds like a great deal of unfairness & bias here. But from what Susan writes, there still is reason for hope.

    Hey, you looked great on camera, Deb! Good seeing you! :-)

  6. Thanks, Laura! I agree...there is still reason to hope!

  7. I apologize to all my readers, but I have to add this comment here:

    To all those who are spamming me with useless GARBAGE, you are making one critical mistake: giving me your so-called website! Not interested! Plus, I am not so foolish to not realize that it could also be a malware/Trojan infested site which I would not click on, on my worst day!

    My advice: quit spamming me or I will file reports to the appropriate authorities!

  8. This whole mess boils right down to the screw ups of Steuben County D.A.s office and Steuben county investigators . That are all under trained for such a serious matter on an innocent mans life. It's really sad the bs that goes on amoung these idiots with power. They make a simple case so complicated for the normal layman that innocent people take pleas everyday. On the other hand I have seen serious offenders walk away with a hand slap. Good luck Shawn, I am sure you are innocent. I will follow your page and support you.

  9. To view all videos from my blogs, please go to his FB page: