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July 17, 2013

Hearing slated in appeal of murder conviction

A hearing is scheduled today in the appeals process of a Wills Point man, convicted of murder two years ago in connection with a shooting death in January 2010.

In April, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the 196th District Court to determine whether Lanny Dean Campbell, who was convicted in the death of James Michael McKinnis, received ineffective assistance of counsel.

In May, Campbell was returned to the custody of the Hunt County Jail and had an attorney to represent him on the appeal.

A hearing to consider findings and facts concerning the case is scheduled at 9 a.m. today.

A jury in the 196th District Court rejected defense arguments that Campbell shot and killed McKinnis in self-defense. Campbell was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the conviction, which was previously upheld by the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana.

In his appeal Campbell claimed his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance because the attorney failed to prepare for trial, failed to secure testimony from favorable witnesses, failed to impeach the testimony of one of the prosecution’s witness, failed to introduce recordings of the witness in which she admitted to having lied in her statements to police, and failed to adequately develop facts and argue for suppression of evidence obtained in an illegal search.

In its opinion, the appeals court ruled that the trial court should order Campbell’s trial attorney to respond to the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel within 90 days.

Campbell, who had listed a Wills Point address in the Waco Bay subdivision, had pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Quinlan Police Department responded just before midnight Jan. 30, 2010 to a call of shots fired at a home in the 2400 block of Cottonwood in the Waco Bay subdivision. The first arriving deputy found McKinnis lying in the front yard of the residence, a victim of gunshot wounds. McKinnis, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two of the eyewitnesses who testified against Campbell were the defendant’s own children.

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