DECATUR - The Fourth District Appellate Court has affirmed the First Degree murder conviction of Defendant Jeremiah L. Campbell. Campbell was convicted in February of 2011 of the First Degree murder of a nineteen-month-old child following a lengthy and contentious jury trial. Campbell was subsequently sentenced to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections by the Honorable Judge Timothy Steadman. Pursuant to statute, Campbell must serve 100% of his sentence, receiving no day for day credit.
At trial, Macon County Assistant State's Attorneys Elizabeth Dobson and Mary Koll presented evidence showing that on January 20, 2006, nineteen-month-old Galen Cole was left in the care of the defendant, Jeremiah Campbell, boyfriend to Galen's mother. When Galen's mother left him with the defendant during the early morning hours, he was sleeping peacefully and was uninjured. She returned home from work to find the defendant smoking marijuana and watching television while Galen was laid on the foot of his bed, not breathing. Galen died in the emergency room of Decatur Memorial Hospital the same day. Forensic Pathologists Dr. Jessica Bowman and Dr. Mary Case testified that Galen's death resulted from blunt-force trauma, violently inflicted upon him. The experts agreed that a severe injury to the child's liver significantly contributed to his death and that the injury was inflicted within a matter of hours prior to the child's death, at a time when the defendant would have been alone with the child. Forensic Pathologist Dr. Ralston testified for the defense and agreed that the most serious injury suffered by Galen was the injury to his liver and could have been caused by an adult grasping the child's torso over the ribs and squeezing; however, he opined that the damage to the liver was one to two days old and could not have been caused when the defendant was alone with the child.
Campbell appealed his conviction, arguing that (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the only reasonable expert testimony established that the fatal injury could not have occurred when the defendant was alone with the victim and (2) the trial court erroneously denied his post-trial motion alleging that a juror knew a key witness's sister and cousin and had received questionable outside contact. The Appellate Court affirmed the conviction, holding that the jury's decision to accept the expert opinions of Dr. Case and Dr. Bowman over Dr. Ralston's was reasonable and was supported by the totality of the evidence.
Further, the court dismissed Campbell's argument regarding the impartiality of one of the jurors, holding that Campbell failed to show specific, detailed, and non-conjectural evidence supporting his contention. The court's decision to affirm Campbell's conviction was unanimous.