DeShawn Campbell, 29, was found guilty of shooting rookie San Jose police officer Jeffrey Fontana on Oct. 28, 2001
A jury has found defendant DeShawn Campbell guilty of murdering San Jose police Officer Jeffrey Fontana in 2001.
The verdict, read at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday is guilty. Members of the Fontana family gasped when the verdict was read. They later hugged and cried in the courtroom.
Campbell had is eyes closed as the verdict was read.
Campbell, 29, is guilty of shooting the rookie officer on Oct. 28, 2001, when Fontana approached his parked vehicle in the city's Almaden Valley neighborhood in the early morning hours. Campbell testified that his friend Rodney McNary was the one who fired on Fontana, using a gun Campbell had with him for protection after being involved in a fight at a party earlier that night.
District Attorney Dolores Carr said at a late-morning news conference the verdict has been a long time coming.
"Justice has been served in this case," Carr said. "I'm grateful to have this day come to an end."
Carr thanked the Fontana family for their patience and understanding, and also for sticking with the process and the system.
Fontana's mother, Sandy Fontana, also spoke at the news conference, surrounded by other family members. She said she has not slept well in the last four months and has been waiting for this day.
Sandy said her son, who had been on the force for only a few months when he was killed, would have made a terrific police officer. She said Fontana enjoyed working with kids and strived to be involved with the community.
Sandy said it doesn't matter to her that Campbell won't receive the death penalty. She said that in all likelihood, she would not even have been around to see him executed, as the process is so lengthy.
When asked if she could forgive Campbell, she seemed unsure.
"It's still so raw in my mind... but I hope I can," she said.
Police Chief Rob Davis praised jurors for their thoroughness.
"But let's remember, this case is about Jeffrey Fontana," Davis said. "We will never forget him. We know he is with us here today."
Campbell spent nearly two weeks in hiding before police arrested him Nov. 7 in a friend's backyard. Campbell told the courtroom he did not turn himself in because he was afraid, both of police retaliation and of McNary and his gang associates harming him for being a "snitch." Police records show McNary is a member of the 7 Trees Crip gang.
Prosecutor Lane Liroff argued there was no physical evidence to link McNary to the scene and alleged that Campbell hid out because he was guilty, not afraid of retribution.
The prosecution alleged that Campbell saw Fontana approach his car, panicked and shot him to avoid being detained for the two active warrants out for his arrest at the time of Fontana's death.
Campbell faces life in prison with no possibility of parole. In December, Northway ruled that Campbell is mildly mentally retarded, meaning he is not eligible for the death penalty.
The trial started Feb. 23 and the jury began deliberating May 15.