SPRINGFIELD — The Fourth Appellate Court upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Jeremiah L. Campbell, who was convicted by a jury of beating 19-month-old Galen Cole Jr. to death in 2006.
Campbell, 35, was sentenced to 60 years in prison, to be served at 100 percent, for the brutal murder of the toddler, the son of Campbell’s girlfriend at that time. The slaying occurred while the child’s mother was at work and Campbell was supposed to be sitting for him.
Campbell, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, appealed his conviction on the grounds that the state failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the trial judge erroneously denied a post-trial hearing on a connection between a juror and the victim’s mother’s relatives.
A three-judge panel of the Springfield-based court ruled unanimously that “a rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt the fatal injury” occurred while Galen was in Campbell’s care.
Elizabeth Dobson, the lead attorney in the 2011 trial, said the judges handed down a just decision.
“Although nothing can repair the loss that Galen’s parents have suffered, from a prosecutor’s perspective justice feels good when it comes on behalf of a baby,” said Dobson, who also prosecuted Campbell’s first trial in the case in 2008, which resulted in a mistrial because of a hung jury.
Associate Macon County Judge Timothy Steadman was the judge in both of Campbell’s murder trials.
In his appeal, Campbell asserted that Galen’s fatal injury could not have occurred while he was alone with the victim, as the “only reasonable expert testimony” of Dr. John Ralston concluded. But the appellate court concluded that the jury’s acceptance of the opinion of Dr. Mary Case, a forensic pathologist with far more experience, was reasonable.
Addressing the issue of an impartial juror, the court ruled that the defendant did not meet the legal burden of introducing specific, detailed evidence about a juror’s alleged connections to the relatives of the victim’s mother. The juror did not know her personally and had not withheld any information requested of her by the court.
Campbell’s projected release date from the Department of Corrections is May 30, 2071, shortly after his 93rd birthday.