Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Campo: Circumstantial evidence supports murder conviction

In U.S. v. Campo, No. 14-15541 (Nov. 1, 2016), the Court affirmed the convictions and sentences of a defendant convicted of murder, firearm trafficking, and firearm possession. The Court rejected Campo’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, noting the circumstantial evidence that supported the verdict of conspiracy to murder. The evidence showed that Campo intended to kill a former gun trafficking accomplice in order to prevent him from communicating with police about the scheme. Campo bragged about the killing almost a year after the fact. Cell phone records placed Campo’s phone near the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. DNA evidence also supported the verdict. Ballistics tests matched the firearms that were used in the murder to the type of barrel Campo used on his firearm. Sufficient evidence also supported the firearm trafficking conviction. On plain error review, the Court rejected the argument that, under Fed. R. Evid. 701, the victim’s brother should not have been allowed to testify that when he called police after seeing blood in a warehouse, he told police that he thought that Campo had killed his brother. The Court noted that this opinion testimony was based on the brother’s perceptions at the time, and therefore admissible. Under Fed. R. Evid. 704, this testimony was not objectionable even though it addressed an ultimate issue in the case. On plain error review, the Court also rejected the argument that it was a Double Jeopardy violation to convict Campo of causing the death of a person while using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j), and also of the lesser offense of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of § 924(c). The Court noted the absence of Supreme Court caselaw supporting this argument, and Circuit precedent suggesting it was without merit.