Murder trial begins in case where victim crashed into Dayton playground

A jury trial has begun in a case where the victim of a deadly shooting drove his vehicle into school playground equipment after being struck.

Carson D. Barker, 35, of Dayton, appeared Monday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. He is charged with murder, felonious assault, discharging a weapon near a prohibited premise and tampering with evidence.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

Dayton police responded on May 26, 2019, to a crash in the playground behind Dayton Boys Prep Academy on West Third Street. Christopher Lee Campbell, 42, was found shot inside the vehicle. He was taken to Miami Valley Hospital but died from injuries the following day.

Witnesses and evidence helped investigators determine that the shooting took place near West Second and North Antioch streets, a short distance from the crash, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors said during opening arguments Monday that Barker ambushed Campbell while he was inside a Chevrolet Tahoe. They said Campbell got out of the Tahoe, dove into the middle of the intersection in an attempt to escape the gunfire and shot back at Barker.

“He tried to get back into the Tahoe as quickly as he could and he drove across James H. McGee and ended up into the Boys Preparatory Academy,” prosecutors said during opening arguments.

Barker has pleaded not guilty in the case and during their opening argument, the defense said the defendant had to make a split-second decision when Campbell reached toward his waistband before the shooting.

They said tensions were high between the men in the days leading up to the incident. They said Campbell had been parked along the route Barker walked home from work and was even there when he took a different route.

“This uneasiness turned into fear,” the defense said. “And on May 26, 2019, Carson walked to his mom’s house and he saw Mr. Campbell’s red Chevy Tahoe parked across the street. And he wanted to go up to figure out what’s going on. And as he approaches the vehicle, he sees Chris reach into that waistband.”

“He had a choice to make, Chris’ or his life,” the defense said of Barker. “And he can only make one choice and he shot.”

The case is being heard by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary K. Huffman. The trial is expected to last multiple days.

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