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INVERNESS — John William Campbell, the man convicted of hacking his father to death, is now facing death by execution.
Campbell, 39, was sentenced to death Tuesday by Circuit Judge Ric Howard for the August 2010 killing of his father, John Henry Campbell, 68.
Campbell also was sentenced 70 years for robbery crimes he committed during the time of his father’s death. That sentence is to run consecutive with the 25 years he was handed in Hernando County for attempted murder for ramming his vehicle into a parked deputy’s vehicle during a police pursuit following the killing of his father. Campbell also was tagged a habitual violent felony offender, which caused the maximum sentences for his robbery charges to double. He is a seven-time felon including a conviction in which he hid in his former sister-in-law’s closet and attacked her with a hammer when she got home in a quarrel over custody of his infant son.
Howard read a detailed sentencing order that ascribed “weight,” “slight or little weight” or “no weight” to both the prosecution’s aggravating factors and the defense’s mitigating factors.
In the end, Howard said the prosecution team of Rich Buxman and Pete Magrino proved four out of six aggravating factors.
After his conviction in January, it took the same jurors less than an hour to return with a death penalty recommendation to Howard. The vote was 8-4 in favor of death.
While the 12-person panel had to be unanimous in deciding a guilty verdict, a simple majority vote was needed to recommend to Howard whether Campbell should head to death row or be handed life without parole. The ultimate decision of life or death was Howard’s, but he is required by law to give “great weight” to the jury recommendation.
“The aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors,” Howard said to Campbell before imposing the death sentence.
Campbell had no reaction to the verdict, but could be seen thanking his attorneys, assistant public defenders Devon Sharkey and Michael Lamberti.
The elder Campbell’s body was discovered Aug. 10 by sheriff’s deputies conducting a well-being check on him in the living room of the doublewide mobile home the father and son shared on East Nugget Lane.
The younger Campbell reportedly grabbed what Howard called a “medieval looking, oaken-handled” cutting implement with a blade “more suited for crushing than cutting” and chopped his father three times in the head with it while he sat in a recliner.
He then rifled through his father’s pockets and went through the house looking for money and credit cards.
He then took off and used the credit card to buy gift cards, which he gave to a drug dealer in Ocala in exchange for crack cocaine. After getting high and then being tracked by police, he led them in a chase on U.S. 19 before ramming his vehicle into a deputy’s vehicle. Campbell and his attorneys said it was a bid to commit suicide after killing his father and not an attempt to kill the deputy who was standing by the vehicle. The deputy fled as the car barreled toward him, but still sustained injuries. Campbell was hospitalized with serious injuries.
Campbell has 30 days to appeal.