WATERLOO — A jury made up of Black Hawk County residents is hearing the case of a Dubuque County robbery that went wrong, leaving one person dead.
Testimony in the trial of 31-year-old Eric Dewayne Campbell Jr. of Dubuque started Tuesday following a change of venue to Waterloo because of pre-trial publicity.
Campbell is charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree murder in the April 2, 2016, shooting death of 21-year-old Collin Brown outside Brown’s mobile home in the community of Key West.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Douglas Hammerand said Campbell wasn’t the one who shot Brown and hadn’t planned to kill him, but he orchestrated the robbery because he needed a quick source of cash.
“He’s not the shooter, but the evidence will show he’s aiding and abetting,” Hammerand told jurors.
Campbell has pleaded not guilty, but the defense declined to outline its case during opening statements Tuesday.
The prosecution’s first witness was Adrianna Chica, 20, who had been living in Campbell’s Dubuque apartment near Jackson Park with her boyfriend, Jeremy Dukes, and who also knew Brown.
She said on the night of April 1, 2016, she overheard Campbell tell Dukes he was looking for a quick “come up” — way to get some money — because someone had stolen from him.
Hammerand told the jury an acquaintance named Corby Yager suggested Brown — who lived in the Table Mound Mobile Home Park in Key West, the small community just south of Dubuque — would make a good target because Brown sold drugs.
Initially oblivious to the plan, Chica said she drove Campbell and others to Table Mound on the night of April 1, and during the trip she mentioned she knew someone at the mobile home park. When she was told they would be robbing Brown, she became hesitant.
“I knew him, and I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Chica testified.
She said she drove to Brown’s mobile home but told the others the Jeep in his driveway meant his girlfriend would be there with children. The group then returned to Dubuque, and Chica and Dukes went to Wal-Mart to buy groceries.
Hammerand said while Chica and Dukes were gone, Campbell recruited Tacari “Carl” Minifee and Imere Hall to carry out the robbery and had Taylor Shaw drive to the mobile home park.
“The problem being, the evidence will show, Taylor Shaw didn’t know where to go,” Hammerand said. She was getting directions from Campbell, who had been there earlier that night, but there were a lot of mobile homes, and it was after midnight and dark outside.
So Chica had to return to Key West to point out Brown’s trailer to Campbell and the other carload of people. She had Campbell’s girlfriend, Savanna Stotlar, drive. Brown’s was the last unit on the mobile home park’s southernmost street, and Stotlar tapped on the brakes as she passed it and then returned to Dubuque, Chica said.
Hammerand told jurors Campbell, Minifee and Hall entered the mobile home wearing masks and brandishing guns and demanded money and drugs. Brown’s girlfriend was put on the floor — the children were sleeping — and Brown eventually fled and ran to a neighbor’s house, and Minifee fired two shots as Brown opened the neighbor’s door, he said. One of the shots struck Brown, killing him.
During cross-examination by the defense, Chica was questioned about initially denying any knowledge of the robbery plan and shooting when she talked with an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent. She also said she had entered a plea deal where her second-degree robbery charge would be reduced to conspiracy after testifying in trials stemming from the shooting.
Minifee and Hall were convicted of murder and robbery in trials earlier this year and sentenced to prison. Dukes was convicted of conspiracy during a trial earlier this year and was sentenced to prison.
Stotlar and Jager pleaded to conspiracy charges, and Shaw is awaiting trial.
Testimony in Campbell’s trial is scheduled to continue today.