BISBEE — An abuse case involving four adopted children who claim they lived in a house rife with systematic abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents and older sibling was delayed again Friday after defense attorneys requested several records that neither the prosecution nor the youngsters’ attorney are willing or able to provide.
Assistant prosecutor Michael Powell told Cochise County Superior Court Judge James Conlogue that the request for records in the case against Brian Campbell, Monica Campbell and their daughter Jade Campbell — which includes at least 200 items — weren’t received by his office until Thursday afternoon. Lynne Cadigan, who is representing the victims, said the same thing.
“This is just a tactical move to delay the trial,” said Powell, who has been working on a settlement agreement with defense attorneys but is pushing for a trial date in case plea negotiations fall apart.
Powell and Cadigan are concerned that Conlogue, who has been on the case for more than a year, will be retiring at the end of 2020. Powell requested a trial date for November with a three-week duration, but the Campbells’ three defense attorneys have argued they won’t be ready by then because the case is so complex.
Records the defense attorneys are seeking include dental, medical, psychological, school and cell phone records. They’re also seeking records about the children’s biological parents.
The indictment charging Brian and Monica Campbell, filed in February 2019, alleges the four children were victims of routine abuse that included being held down so Brian Campbell could shock the child with a Taser, being hit with a wooden object, being forced to stand nude in the house where cameras were present, having food withheld for up to three days and forcing one of the girls to sleep nude in the same bed as her parents and brothers. Monica Campbell is accused of choking two of the children, the indictment states.
The charges include aggravated assault by domestic violence, child abuse by domestic violence and permitting life, health or morals of a minor to be impaired.
Investigators say the offenses occurred between 2016 and 2018. It was stated in Superior Court last month that the alleged mistreatment may have been going on since 2012.
Jade Campbell is charged with aggravated assault by domestic violence and child abuse by domestic violence.
Brian and Monica Campbell have severed their parental rights to the four children who accuse them of lying about the abuse.
Powell said he doesn’t have many of the records the defense is asking for. Cadigan said other records such as the psychological and school records would be a violation of her clients’ privacy.
Attorney George Damon, who represents Brian Campbell, said he has often requested school records without knowing what they would reveal, and would then discover something that was pertinent to a case.
The attorneys suggested that Conlogue inspect the records “in camera,” which means the judge would examine the records in his chambers and then determine which should be released.
Conlogue balked at the suggestion.
“Me looking at the records is an intrusion of privacy and if it violates the rule of law, I’m not going to do it,” the judge said.
Conlogue said he would not “order a carte blanche in-camera disclosure,” concerning the records the defense is requesting. He said the attorneys would have to show how the information would be relevant.
“There has to be some basis shown,” Conlogue said. “If we look just at what is submitted today, I would have to deny the request.”
At a hearing in May, defense attorneys tried to obtain surveillance video from cameras the Campbells had in their residence and which prosecutors said captured much of the alleged abuse the youngsters were subjected to.
The judge had scheduled Friday’s hearing in order to give defense attorneys a chance to review the videos, which were monumental in length.
That issue was not discussed Friday.
Powell suggested that he would prepare a document listing the records requested by the defense lawyers and that he would include his objections to their requests “line by line.”
A hearing over those objections will be set for sometime in July.