‘We had a really good shot at winning this’

Joshua Campbell June 3,2020

 Attorney offers insight into Joshua Campbell no contest plea

A defense attorney for Joshua Campbell, 22, who recently pleaded no contest to felony manslaughter for the shooting of 21-year-old Tanner Miller, says the decision was made to spare the victim’s family the trauma of a public trial.

“In all honesty, I think we had a real shot at winning this trial,” Steven Titus, Campbell’s attorney, wrote to County 17 on June 9. “This was a ‘he said vs. he said’ type of case and twelve Campbell County jurors would have realistically found reasonable doubt and acquitted Mr. Campbell at trial.”

The state, however, acknowledged the weakness in its case and we all came to a very reasonable plea deal where Campbell could end up with probation, he continued.

“In the end, Mr. Campbell shot and killed his best friend,” Titus wrote. “That is something that he will have to live with every day for the rest of his life.”

With the plea, the state has agreed to recommend an imposed prison sentence of not less than three years nor more than ten years, according to a statement of agreement filed in the case, though the defense has reserved the right to argue for a lesser sentence.

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Campbell had been charged in June 2020, where he had been accused of shooting Miller with an AR-15 rifle while intoxicated at his residence at the South Fork Apartments, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

The defendant initially told police that he had feared for his life and acted out of self-defense, believing someone was attempting to break into his apartment, per the affidavit.

The investigation, however, revealed that Miller, Campbell, and two other witnesses had eaten dinner together earlier that night and consumed alcohol. The four separated with Campbell and one of the witnesses returning to his apartment after purchasing more alcohol.

The affidavit states that Campbell and the witness decided they would play a prank on Miller, who had driven to the apartment separately, by locking the apartment door, turning all the lights off, and scaring him with firearms, per the affidavit.

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The witness told police that he had checked a 30-30 rifle, which he would use to play his part, to make sure it was unloaded. That same witness could not say for certain whether Campbell had done the same with his AR-15 rifle, the affidavit states.

Miller reportedly attempted to enter the locked door several times, the witness told police, until Campbell unlocked the door. When Miller entered, Campbell shot him, per the affidavit.

Campbell initially told police that he feared for his life and believed someone was attempting to break into his apartment and had “come through my door very fast,” the affidavit states.

Miller had been alive when police arrived on the scene. He was transported to the Campbell County Memorial Hospital where he later died, per the affidavit.

Campbell is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.