Wednesday, March 15, 2006

TOP STORY >> Defendants in scandals spend time at hearings

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: In a sex and drugs case that has rocked the Lonoke community, the Campbells and two bail bondsmen plead not guilty and are slated to appear for pretrial motions on Thursday.

Pretrial motions are set for Thursday in the various drug and/or theft trials of former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, his wife Kelly and bail bondsmen Bobby Cox Jr. and Larry Norwood in Lonoke County Circuit Court at Lonoke.

All four defendants pled not guilty before Circuit Judge David Reynolds Monday morning to an array of felony charges brought in February, and the Campbells each also pleaded not guilty to 10 new drug or theft charges filed Friday.
Reynolds tentatively set at July 2 trial date.

Substituting for ailing Circuit Judge Lance Hanshaw at the plea and arraignment Monday, Reynolds deferred ruling on Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain’s motion to revoke Kelly Campbell’s bond and lock her up. McCastlain argued that the defendant had improperly talked with witnesses and victims in her case.

Kelly Campbell’s attorney, Mark Hampton, said his client hadn’t intentionally violated the no-contact order, adding that in one instance, a victim who is also a neighbor had approached the Campbells with vacation gifts for their children.
“No contact means no contact,” said Reynolds, but he said retired Circuit Judge John Cole could hold a hearing on the matter Thursday, when the pretrial motions are heard, leaving her free on her $15,000 bond.
“I can control my client,” said Hampton.

Cole has been assigned to hear the charges against Jay Campbell, represented by Patrick Benca, and also has been assigned to hear whatever comes before the court in Hanshaw’s absence on Thursday.

That’s the date set for pretrial motions for all four defendants, according to Donna Gay, staff attorney for the Administrative Office of the Court.

No judge has been assigned yet to hear the cases of Kelly Campbell, Cox and Norwood, Gay said.
McCastlain told Reynolds Monday that the state would like all four cases joined.

Waiting to be called for arraignment, Jay Campbell look-ed relaxed, sitting with his arm around his wife in the front row of the courtroom.

Later they walked hand-in-hand to the sheriff’s office to be booked on the new charges.

Friday, McCastlain also filed sexual abuse charges against former Lonoke Police Department dispatcher Amy Staley, alleged to have had sex with an inmate. Staley is slated for arraignment April 3.

New charges against the Campbells include four counts of residential burglary, five counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and a count of theft by receiving.
Kelly Campbell is also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

A Department of Corrections investigation begun about seven months ago into whether or not some Lonoke city officials improperly used Act 309 inmate labor was later handed off to the State Police and subsequently resulted in charges that Jay Campbell conspired with the two bail bondsmen to manufacture methamphetamine, that his wife had sex with prisoners about two dozen times, and that the Campbells had stolen prescription drugs and jewelry from Lonoke residents.

These latest charges grew out of the same investigation, according to State Police Investigator Charles McLemore.

Jay Campbell’s February charges included not only the conspiracy to manufacture meth-amphetamine charge, but also two counts of hindering apprehension or prosecution, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft by receiving, theft of services and one misdemeanor, theft of property.

His wife was charged with five counts of furnishing prohibited articles, one count of second-degree escape, one count of residential burglary, four counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit residential burglary, one count of theft of property and one misdemeanor charge, tampering.
Cox was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, in-timidating a juror, a witness or an informant, and terroristic threatening.

Norwood was charged with a single count of criminal conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
At that time, Cox, Norwood and Chief Campbell each were released on $50,000 bond and Kelly Campbell posted a $15,000 bond.

Lonoke Mayor Thomas Pri-vett, arrested in February, is free on $500 bond for his misdemeanor theft of services charge.
He will be arraigned April 3.