Indiana – A Porter County jury stared at graphic photos Wednesday showing how a Portage woman was found shot dead with blood pooled in the carpet around her in 2015.
“So, how do we get to this place where she dies so violently?” asked prosecuting attorney Matthew Frost.
Frost turned and pointed to Kevin Campbell, 33, sitting in a suit with his defense attorneys at the Porter County courthouse in Valparaiso.
“We get to this place because the man sitting at the end of this table, Kevin A. Campbell, murdered her,” Frost said.
Attorneys presented opening arguments Wednesday after seating a jury Tuesday in Campbell’s murder trial stemming from the death Tiara Thomas, Campbell’s ex-girlfriend and his children’s mother.
Thomas, 30, was found shot Nov. 18, 2015, in the bedroom of her Portage apartment she shared with her fiance in the Park Place apartment complex.
Although he couldn’t see the screen, Campbell, a former Hammond police officer, wiped his eyes with a tissue as Frost showed Thomas’ autopsy photos during opening statements. When the courtroom cleared during a morning break, he cried as he sat alone at the defense table.
Susan Marie Severtson, one of Campbell’s attorneys, argued that there was a lack of eyewitness and scientific evidence in the case. No DNA evidence or fingerprints matching Campbell were found at Thomas’ apartment, she said.
At the end of the trial, Svertson argued, “You will not know who in fact killed Tiara Thomas.”
Thomas and Campbell had three children together, but the “relationship fell apart,” Frost said. It was a “contentious breakup,” and before Thomas died, Campbell’s child support “expanded exponentially,” he said.
When Campbell was arrested, Portage police said there may have been a financial motive involved, as Campbell’s vehicle had been repossessed, he had voice mails from creditors and his bank account balance was $7.58, according to court records.
“It was ruining his life,” Frost said.
Svertson countered that didn’t amount to motive. Thomas was Campbell’s “first love” and the two had known each other since elementary school, she said.
“He was happy to emotionally and financially support his children,” Svertson said.
Police questioned Marqtell Robinson, Thomas’ fiance who she lived with, but Robinson’s alibi that he had worked a midnight shift before he found her dead at 7 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2015, checked out, according to testimony from Ted Uzelac, Portage police assistant chief.
“He did not murder Tiara Thomas,” Frost said.
David Duttlinger, a Portage Fire Department paramedic, said he couldn’t say exactly when Thomas had been shot, but she wasn’t bleeding much when he arrived at the apartment, he said. The responding officers and paramedic said none of them smelled gunpowder in the apartment.
After questioning neighbors at the apartment complex, no one said they heard or saw anything, the officers testified.
Campbell’s trial continues Thursday and is expected to run three days a week for the next few weeks, attorneys said
Campbell is being held at Porter County Jail without bond.
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