Dayton murder suspect takes stand in own defense

Carson D. Barker
Carson D. Barker

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

A Dayton man who is the subject of a murder trial took the stand in his own defense Thursday, telling a jury that he was followed for a month by six to 10 men at a time before he fatally shot the victim in the case.

Carson Barker, 35, is charged in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court with murder, felonious assault, discharging a weapon near a prohibited premise and tampering with evidence. He has pleaded not guilty and is claiming self-defense in the trial.

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He is accused of killing Christopher Campbell, 42, on May 26, 2019. Authorities allege Barker shot Campbell near West Second and North Antioch streets. Campbell was able to drive away from the scene before crashing into the playground behind Dayton Boys Prep Academy.

Campbell died the next day.

Barker’s trial began Monday and continued into Thursday. The jury began to deliberate the case Thursday afternoon but a verdict was not announced before deadline.

Barker took the stand on Thursday and told the jury that he saw Campbell as an uncle and that Campbell was friends with his stepfather. He said Campbell became distant in 2019 and lodged an accusation about a relative of Barker’s snitching on him about dealing drugs.

“Everybody knows Chris from the neighborhood, he was dangerous,” Barker said.

“He was talking about street credibility, he said: ‘When you get your street cred, it’s hard to get and easy to lose so you have to keep it. So I have to show people what I’m about, that I’m not playing.’”

Barker said he and Campbell worked together before Campbell quit a couple of months before the shooting. Barker said after the allegations, he began seeing Campbell regularly.

“I would see him driving up and down the street and circling the block where I would take my breaks,” Barker said. “I would see him on my route to and from work, I would see him on my routes to places I would go, like my mom’s house or the library.”

He said he would see Campbell and other vehicles associated with him, but said he didn’t know who the other men were.

“I was being tailed by Chris and usually six or seven guys, sometimes as many as 10,” he said.

The defendant testified he talked to Campbell in April at a gas station about following him, and Campbell denied it. He said Campbell then grabbed at his waistband to indicate he had a gun. He said the following escalated after that, and Barker saw Campbell outside Barker’s mother’s home on May 26, 2019.

He said he approached Campbell, who was sitting in a vehicle, to try to talk with him and ask him to stop.

“I’m looking at him and he looks over at me and he pulls his gun out,” Barker said.

“I pulled my gun and shot and it happened so fast and I thought I missed.”

Barker testified Campbell shot back and a shootout occurred. Barker said he shot all the bullets in his gun and he began running away. He said Campbell “traced” him and continued shooting at him.

“I was out of bullets, I was able to reload and turned around on Antioch and fired one time as he was still shooting,” Barker said.

Prosecutors during closing argument called Barker’s story “unbelievable.” They said Barker, as part of his self defense claim, had a duty to retreat but instead “ambushed” Campbell.

“He did not have reasonable grounds to believe or an honest belief that he was in danger,” prosecutors said.

They argued that if Campbell was really stalking Barker, and Barker was scared of the man, he wouldn’t have approached him. They also noted that Barker didn’t call police before or after the shooting, instead opting to go back to his home and cook dinner.