The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 15, 2013

Campbell goes to trial

2nd Basilone murder case opens today

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER — Nearly two years after William Basilone was gunned down outside his namesake Farrell bar, the second trial to decide the fate of the pair accused of killing him in a botched robbery begins today in Mercer.

Nineteen-year-old Devine Campbell is on trial facing charges of second-degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

He has been pinned by authorities as convicted shooter Joshua Stewart’s partner in the crime.

Stewart, 20, was convicted in September of first degree murder and two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder, plus more time for the robberies and a conviction on other crimes that happened in the waning weeks of 2011.

Jurors in Stewart’s trial accepted prosecutors’ account of what happened that December night when Basilone was shot five times near an alley at the corner of Roemer Boulevard outside his bar.

Basilone was killed in an attempted robbery, authorities contend, although he had cash and jewelry on him when he was killed that wasn’t taken.

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code doesn’t include an “attempted robbery” charge.

Stewart was the man who shot Basilone, while Campbell stood in the alley, prosecutors said during Stewart’s trial.

As the trial opens today, it appears the structure of the case remains the same, with authorities using surveillance camera footage from outside the bar, plus accounts from witnesses who saw part of the crimes, and cell phone and social media photographs that police used to tie Stewart and Campbell to the crimes.

Jury selection ended Thursday morning in the case before Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John.

The all-white panel consists of six men and six women, along with three female alternates and one male alternate.

They will listen to Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems opening argument at 9:30 a.m. today.

Campbell’s lawyer, J. Jarrett K. Whalen, may make an argument after Kochems or he can elect to present his case in its entirety after the prosecution rests.

St. John has denied an attempt made by Whalen to continue the case because he’s yet to interview several prospective defense witnesses who are incarcerated.

St. John has asked the lawyers involved to refrain from talking to the media about the case to avoid inadvertently contaminating jurors.

Jurors were told to expect the trial to last at least until next Wednesday by St. John.

If convicted, Campbell faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the murder charge.