Naturally, Piree wanted to talk with Jacobs. According to Piree, Jacobs wanted to talk too—specifically, he wanted to discuss trading information on the Malvern Street murders in exchange for protection.
“[Jacobs] said he was in fear for his life,” says Piree. “He wanted to be relocated to another prison facility, preferably outside the county of Philadelphia.”
Jacobs made his statement incriminating Campfield in the murders of Hinton and Robinson, reviewed the document and signed each page.
For unknown reasons, Jacobs was never transferred.
Even though Jacobs never made an official deal with the D.A. and denied his statement on the stand, the statement is still evidence. It’s up to the jury to decide which Jacobs they believe, the one in the Roundhouse in 2006 or the one in the courthouse in 2010.
“I’m going to serve my time standing up,” Jacobs tells the court.
Ballistics testimony is next. A diagram of an AR-15 is projected onto the wall. It shows that when the trigger pulls back, combustion gases force the bullet down “the business end” of the barrel then loops back and ejects the shell cartridge. The ballistics expert for the prosecution drones on about how the firearms work as the cycle repeats on the wall: trigger, bullet, ejection, reload.
Meanwhile, supporters on both sides of the courtroom move about restlessly, entering and exiting the courtroom. It doesn’t help that the testimony is painstakingly complicated, the physics of metal, heat, trajectories.
Finally, the judge orders the doors locked. Someone in the crowd mutters, “Come on, this isn’t a movie, this is life.”
The ballistics expert finishes. His testimony boils down to the fact that the AK-47 recovered from Johnson definitely matches the one that shot bullets in the house on Malvern Street. The AR-15 is so commonly manufactured that it cannot be matched exactly, but it is definitely the same type.
The court officer unlocks the doors and everybody shuffles out. As the crowd moves toward the elevators, the families stand awkwardly within feet of one another. It’s different outside the courtroom. The doors to an elevator that must have been occupied by friends or family associated with the victims begins to close as Campfield’s sister, standing in front of the door, suddenly shrieks.
“Fuck them! Fuck you! I don’t care! I don’t give a fuck what they think! They look at us like we’re a bunch of niggers! I don’t give a fuck!” she hollers and charges in circles as about 15 onlookers, including police officers, glance then return their gaze to cell phones, or the floor. Eventually the girl collapses, sobbing, into her family’s embrace.
Before closing arguments, Fairman approaches the family seated on her side. “Everyone has to remain calm during the closing, no matter what I say or what they say,” she advises. “Because if you get mad and flip out, you’ll get kicked out and we’ll just piss off the jury, OK?”
Additional sheriffs are brought in to the room.
McGill begins his closing with an awkward literary allusion. He describes the trial as the best of times and the worst of times, pointing out that while the holiday season is upon us, the lives of two young men were lost “literally in the shadow of City Hall.”
He points out discrepancies between the testimony of Tolbert, Alverest and Jacobs. Who drove the Chevy Lumina? Was the getaway car parked right next to the back door or down the street?
He suggests that even if his client told Jacobs the tale of the murders, perhaps he was making it up in a bit of juvenile bravado, just trying to fit in with a culture that respects violence as an initiation rite into manhood.
“Is Jacobs making it up like he told you he did? Is Lionel Campfield making it up? Do we know? Has it been proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt?” he asks.
Fairman’s turn, she cuts to the chase.
PW's Summer Guide 2015