Accused SJ Cop Killer Takes Stand

The man accused of murdering a San Jose police officer in 2001 told jurors today he spent 10 days in hiding not because he was guilty, but  because he feared being harmed by police, or retaliation from the friend he said fired the gun.

When he first took the stand yesterday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, DeShawn Campbell, 29, said his friend Rodney McNary killed  officer Jeffrey Fontana in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2001 during a  routine traffic check in San Jose's Almaden Valley neighborhood.

Today defense attorney Edward Sousa continued questioning Campbell about the days leading up to his Nov. 7 arrest.

Campbell said he hid in the homes and apartments of several friends, before police tracked him down in the backyard of a home in the 3000  block of Stevens Lane in San Jose.

Campbell said he knew from friends and news reports that he was wanted in connection with the murder.

"I didn't want to be labeled as a snitch for going to the police and telling them what happened," he said.

He said he also feared being harmed by police officers. Campbell told the courtroom that shortly after the shooting, he asked a friend to  drive him to a location in the area of Capitol Expressway and 7 Trees  Boulevard, "so I could turn myself in."

Campbell said he believed representatives from the police and the NAACP were in the area looking for him. However at the last minute he got out  of the car, he said, and walked to a nearby friend's house instead to  continue hiding.

"I was scared of the police," he said. "I thought they was going to do something to me -- hurt me."

Campbell had two active warrants for his arrest at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors have alleged that Campbell shot Fontana to avoid going  to jail for his prior convictions. Yesterday Campbell described running from  the fallen officer in fear, leaving his car at the scene, but taking the gun  with him.

Sousa queried Campbell about a variety of statements and evidence submitted earlier in the trial that could be interpreted as admissions of  guilt.

Campbell confirmed a previous witness' assertion that when asked about the shooting, he responded, "I had warrants out for my arrest. I  panicked. I f----d up."

Campbell told the courtroom, "When I told them I f----d up, I was talking about giving Rodney the gun."

Sousa asked what Campbell meant when he said he panicked. He answered, "running."

While in hiding, Campbell wrote a letter to his family, which Sousa read line by line, asking Campbell about his words.

The letter included statements like "I know that I did some off da  -1/8sic-3/8 hook s--t and there is no going back to fix it." He also asked that if  he were sent to prison, someone tell his daughter "the real talk about here  -1/8sic-3/8 dad."

"I want my daughter to know I never shot and killed no officer," he said when asked to explain his words.

Campbell said his daughter, now 9, is blind. He told the courtroom he was concerned she could be caught nearby if someone came to harm him in  retaliation.

"If anything happened, she couldn't get away from what's going on," he said.

Sousa asked Campbell several times about why he was afraid in the days following the shooting. The questions and answers repeatedly touched  upon retaliation from McNary and his "associates." The defense and  prosecution teams have repeatedly clashed about whether law enforcement  documentation of McNary's gang affiliation can be discussed in front of the  jury.

After Sousa and prosecutor Lane Liroff repeatedly approached the bench on this matter, Judge Diane Northway called an early recess for lunch  so she could consult an additional staff member on the topic.

Campbell's testimony continues this afternoon.


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