|Robert Lee Campbell (mug shot BCSO)|
Taney County circuit court judge Mark Orr is expected to rule this week on whether or not to reinstate the half million dollar bond of a man prosecutor's say put the plan in motion to kill a former Stone County resident and her husband.
Robert Campbell, 68, of Purdy, is one of five people charged in the 2011 kidnapping and murders of Becky Ellsworth Porter and her husband Rusty.
Campbell, who was Rusty Porter's uncle and lived on land adjacent to the slain couple, and four others were indicted by a grand jury in 2012. He posted the half million dollar bond a month after he was charged.
Earlier this month Campbell's brother-in-law, Tony Friend, was sentenced to two life without parole sentences for his part in the double homicide. When he pled guilty in December it was revealed that Campbell allegedly offered him $100,000 to kill the couple.
Friend's son, Phillip, who pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree murder will learn his fate after all other trial in this case are wrapped up as he has agreed to testify for the state.
Last fall Campbell's bond was revoked after he was charged in Barry County with receiving stolen property and altering a vehicle identification number.
At a hearing last week in Taney County, prosecutor Jeff Merrell called two witnesses to the stand for the bond revocation hearing.
Missouri Department of Revenue Special Agent Jeff Miller and Greene County Detective Mark Staeger testified that two vehicle identification plates from vehicles were found in a desk drawer in Campbell's residence during the execution of a search warrant at the elderly man's Caledonia Street property.
Miller said that it is illegal to remove VINS from vehicles. He also testified that several state and federal agencies are conducting ongoing investigations into Campbell.
Some of those center of business and tax records, according to Miller. He said that Campbell had not paid taxes since the 1990's, that he lied on applications for state aid and that his family made money from "unreported businesses."
Miller said that investigators are building a possible case against Campbell, but acknowledged that no charges regarding the allegations have been filed. "It's just tedious work sifting through years of records," he said.
Campbell's attorney Robert Lewis called his clients stepson to the stand. When Campbell was arrested, authorities searching a tractor trailer that he was in possession of noted that VIN numbers located in different areas of the vehicle "did not match up."
The trailer was reported stolen in Fayetville, Arkansas in 2005 and an insurance company settled that claim. Taylor said he bought the trailer about 10 years ago and he did not know it was stolen---so Campbell could not have known he was in possession of stolen property.
However, that is where a legal quagmire arises.
Charges against Campbell were dismissed in Barry County due to lack of evidence. Lewis told Judge Orr because of that, he believes his client should be continued on the original bond.
One of those bond conditions are that Campbell obey all laws.
"We've shown evidence that Mr. Campbell hasn't obeyed all laws," said Merrell.
The normally docile judge asked Lewis, "Do you think the court is in a different position today?"
"In other words," said Orr, "Do you think I'm limited by a bond that was previously set? There are co-defendants who have pleaded guilty...at least one of them has put it on sworn record (regarding Campbell's alleged involvement.) Is it your contention the court can't consider it?"
Lewis acknowledged that the court could consider anything relevant.
The trial of Windy Friend, Tony's wife, is scheduled to begin in late March.
Dusty Hicks, Tony Friend's cousin, was scheduled to stand trial in May, but that was rescheduled for August after his attorney withdrew from the case. At a motion hearing for Hicks last week, attorney's agreed that a jury would be imported to Taney County from Buchanan County to hear the case.
Judge Mark Orr has ruled that Campbell's bond will NOT be reinstated. Orr notes in his ruling, "Defendant poses a danger to the community."
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