Prosecutor: Dayton murder was cold-blooded and an ambush; Man gets life in prison

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

Credit: Montgomery County Jail mug of Carson Barker

A Dayton man was sentenced to a minimum of 29 years to life in prison Friday morning after he was convicted of a murder that prosecutors described as cold-blooded and an ambush.

Carson D. Barker, 35, was found guilty in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court of murder, felonious assault and discharging a weapon near a prohibited premise. A jury also acquitted Barker of two tampering with evidence charges.

Barker shot 42-year-old Christopher L. Campbell on May 26, 2019, near West Second and North Antioch streets in Dayton. Campbell drove away before crashing his Chevrolet Tahoe into the playground behind Dayton Boys Prep Academy.

Prosecutors asked the judge in court filings ahead of the hearing to sentence Barker to the maximum punishment.

“The defendant’s actions speak volumes regarding the cold-blooded nature of his crimes,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. “The defendant has yet to take responsibility or show remorse for the ambush killing of Chris Campbell. Based on the senseless and heinous nature of defendant’s crimes, the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, the defendant’s prior criminal history, and the defendant’s lack of remorse, the state requests that the court impose maximum consecutive sentences.”

Barker declined to speak during the sentencing. His defense attorney, Michael Pentecost, told the judge that his client believed that he was defending himself and that he had shown remorse for Campbell’s death during his trial testimony.

During the trial, Barker took the stand and claimed he was defending himself during the shooting. He told the jury that he saw Campbell, who was sitting in his vehicle, reach for his gun and he fired in response.

But prosecutors during closing arguments called Barker’s story “unbelievable.” They said Barker, as part of his self-defense claim, had a duty to retreat but instead “ambushed” Campbell. They also said that the forensic evidence in the case didn’t match the defendant’s story.

Judge Mary K. Huffman said during the hearing that she didn’t think Barker’s story matched, either.

“Your suggestion that you effectively walked up to the car and seen Mr. Campbell starting to go for his waistband wasn’t credible,” the judge said. “There were shots at the very back of that car and then all the way around including through the front window.”

She also said that there were people on the street, including a woman with a young child, and Barker’s actions showed no respect for their safety.

Campbell’s partner wrote a victim impact letter that was read to the judge during the sentencing. She said that the two were raising six children.

“Six kids means six different emotions. I tell them it’s OK to cry, to let it out and not bottle it up. I’m always here to hug and listen. If I could take that hurt away and make them happy again I would,” the letter says.

She said Campbell made a lasting impact on the family and everyone he came across. She said she was thankful for getting justice but also said in order to move forward and live her life, she had to forgive Barker.

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