In the end, a former MU student who took the stand this week to claim the rape he was accused of was actually consensual sex probably did himself more harm than good with the jury.
After about three hours of deliberations Friday, the jury — 11 men and one woman — found Austin Campbell, 21, guilty of first-degree rape in connection with an incident in 2016 in Laws Hall. He was accused of going into a woman’s room, climbing into bed with her and raping her. He was a freshman at the time and is no longer a student at the university.
On the stand Thursday, he said he had been in the victim’s room on the night of Jan. 17, 2016, and that he returned in the early hours the next day to look for a hat and water bottle he thought he’d left behind.
But Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Jessica Caldera had Campbell stumbling over his words during her cross-examination, forcing him to admit that sex with an intoxicated person could not have been consensual. She returned to that theme Friday in her closing argument.
“Once he was in her room, (Campbell) didn’t even look for his water bottle,” she said. Caldera sought to establish that the victim was never able to consent to sex with Campbell because she was asleep. The victim’s drinking earlier that night was irrelevant, she said.
“He went back to (the victim’s) room because he saw it as an opportunity to have sex with a girl,” she said.
The victim testified earlier in the trial that she did not consent to sex with Campbell because she was asleep. Caldera said Friday that all the witnesses corroborated the victim’s story and proved Campbell’s guilt.
“I am 100 percent positive it was not consensual,” the victim testified Wednesday. “He might have been having sex with me, but I was definitely not having it back.”
The victim went to University Hospital the next day for a sexual assault examination. She had an injury consistent with sexual assault, according to testimony from a sexual assault nurse examiner.
Defense attorney Adam Dowling said in his closing argument that this was a case involving “one person’s word against another’s.” The victim was never unconscious, and the two engaged in “mutual, consensual acts,” Dowling said.
The victim was also “somewhere between buzzed and … blackout drunk,” which stunted her memory of the night’s events, he said.
“If Mr. Campbell is found guilty of any crime that would be a serious injustice,” Dowling said.
But Caldera told the jury this was not a case of mixed signals. “This is a case of rape,” she said.
After Judge Jeff Harris announced the jury’s verdict, Caldera asked that Campbell’s bond be revoked, saying that he was “a significant flight risk” and “a clear danger to the community.” She also told the judge that she had evidence that Campbell had sexually assaulted his high school girlfriend. Harris revoked Campbell’s bond.
Campbell’s first trial ended in a mistrial in fall 2017 after jurors could not reach a unanimous decision, according to previous reporting.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. Campbell faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.