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February 3, 2012

For those eager to have fun with Friday issue-spotting...

I cannot resist blogging about a recent state sentencing in a case that reads more like a law professor's far-fetched exam hypo than a real case.  But this local article, headlined "Bethlehem woman sentenced to state prison for shooting massage client," provides not only another reminder that fact is often stranger than fiction, but also an amazing array of potential consideration factors.   Here are the (amusing?) highlights:

A Bethlehem woman was sentenced to 4½ to 9 years in state prison today for shooting an Allentown man who paid her for a massage.

Annesha “Peaches” Campbell, 20, has claimed she accidentally shot Owen Wilson in his West Walnut Street apartment in November 2010, but Lehigh County Judge James Anthony today said he didn’t believe a 22-caliber revolver could accidentally misfire twice as Campbell claims.  “The evidence in this case points to an intentional shooting,” Anthony said.  “Whether there was an intent to kill, I’m not sure. (But) this robbery could easily have been a murder.”

Campbell claims she found the gun in the bag of her co-masseuse Sunshine Daubert and it misfired in the bathroom.  Campbell then claims she took the gun out of the bathroom to hide it so Daubert wouldn’t use it and it misfired again, this time into Wilson’s head.

In court today, Wilson characterized the incident as an attempted robbery and homicide. He said after he was shot in the head, Campbell and Daubert covered him with a blanket. “I was left for dead,” the 31-year-old said.

The gun was loaded with birdshot, instead of traditional bullets, and Wilson later regained consciousness and physically forced Campbell and Daubert out of his house, he said.  One of them tried to stab him during the brawl, he said.

Officials have not fully explained the relationship between Wilson, Campbell and Daubert, but have said all three had been in bed together and were in various stages of undress when found.  Campbell’s defense attorney, Kimberly Faye Makoul, today said Campbell worked as a prostitute.

Wilson said he still has birdshot fragments in his head, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has daily pain, but that he forgives Campbell and Daubert. Campbell also apologized to him today in court.

Campbell’s mother, Gwendolyn Graham, said Campbell didn’t have a very good childhood. Graham said she was addicted to crack cocaine and would often leave Campbell home alone.  She said her daughter was placed into foster care several times while Graham was in prison.  Graham also said her daughter was raped several times in her youth.  “I didn’t care about my kids,” Graham said through tears. “I feel so bad right now; I wish I could be locked up for her.”

Campbell’s former juvenile probation officer, Greg Durrah, said he hoped Campbell would get into a program that would help her.  He said Campbell has suffered with depression and had to grow up too fast.  He also mentioned that Campbell has a 2-year-old child.

Campbell said she hopes jail will provide her with some rehabilitation. “I need help, your honor,” she said to Anthony.  “I didn’t want to hurt Owen.”   Campbell was initially charged with attempted homicide, but the charge was later downgraded to aggravated assault.

Makoul argued Campbell should receive a sentence similar to that of Daubert, her co-defendant who was sentenced to one to two years in county prison.  Makoul said the two women had “equal participation” in the incident, and the gun being loaded only with birdshot meant Campbell didn’t intend to kill Wilson....

Campbell also was sentenced to 11 years of probation on top of her jail term.  Together, the sentences total 20 years, the maximum for which Anthony could have sentenced Campbell under her plea deal.  “That will give her an opportunity to prove herself in that time, when she’s on probation,” he said.

To review, this sentencing concerns the defendant Peaches who, while perhaps engaged in illegal prostitution, shot her client in the head with a found gun loaded with birdshot.  She claims this was an accident, but this claim is suspect and it is apparently undisputed that during a subsequent fight with the victim, there was also a stabbing.  The victim still suffers from the incident, but has forgiven Peaches.  Meanwhile, Peaches herself suffers from depression, had a terrible childhood that included repeatedly being raped, and she is now a mother herself.  She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, and her co-defendant got only a short prison term for her role.  

Is there any issue regularly debated in modern sentencing law and policy that is not reflected in this remarkable case?  I guess if they had found some pot in the victim's apartment or there was a teenager in the mix, then this case would have even more factors involved.  But, seriously, could the particulars here be any more remarkable (and would anyone dare fault the sentencing judge's choices concerning how to balance all these factors)?

February 3, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Permalink


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You gotta love what some defense lawyers can come up with. Honestly, you just gotta love it.

I mean, did the defense lawyer here go to some advanced brain clinic and have the doctors remove the part of his cortex responsible for creating a sense of embarrassment?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 3, 2012 12:39:39 PM

I think if you really want to cover all issues, there would have to be video, and one of the defendants would have to be under 18.

If that were true, and the john/robbery victim were prosecuted for the images, could the underage prostitute/robbery defendant get restitution?

Posted by: Def. Atty. | Feb 6, 2012 11:39:21 AM

Def. Atty. --

Or, to put it another way, if we had eggs, we could have ham and eggs, if we had ham.

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