Teenagers Jacob Mouzon, 17, and Drake Campbell, 18, were both facing serious charges: those of murder, attempted murder, burglary and armed robbery. And, naturally, the pair got their day in court, where a judge would decide whether the two should be granted bond. But when the time came for Mouzon and Campbell to face the gravity of the situation, they reacted in a way perhaps not expected of alleged criminals: they broke down sobbing.
And the South Carolina teens were just two of a five-man group with suspected links to a home invasion and murder in the community of Huger. Kenneth Campbell Jr., the older brother of Drake Campbell, was also arrested in conjunction with the crimes. In October 2015 Campbell Jr. had previously pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges related to a separate incident.
And as the two young men were due to appear in front of the judge, Jacob Mouzon’s family had come to the courthouse to plead for clemency. Mouzon’s sister said in his defense, “Jacob’s my best friend. I know what he did was wrong, I completely understand that, but he’s not a bad person.” Additionally, she hoped that the judge would approve bond.
Likewise, Drake Campbell had his own backers. While seemingly trying to prove Campbell’s good character, his family members told the judge that the teenager had recently signed up to join the Navy. Additionally, one relative said, “These kids are not awful, terrible kids.”
However, the state’s prosecution asked that the teens be denied bond “due to the violent nature of the crime… and also the fact it took four law enforcement agencies two days to apprehend [the offenders].” Mouzon and Campbell waited, then, to hear what the judge’s decision would be in the light of these statements.
And while both seemed to try their best to hold back from crying, the enormity of the situation – not to mention the seriousness of the charges against them – appeared to weigh heavily. Consequently, tears began to stream down their faces.
As it happens, summary court judges in South Carolina cannot grant or deny bond for murder charges. As a result, even if the judge had been inclined to do so, they could not have released the teens. Thus, Mouzon and Campbell will have to wait to see a circuit court judge for a ruling.
It is unlikely that they will be granted bond even then, however. Due to the nature of their alleged crimes and the events that followed, they could be deemed a flight risk, for instance. Furthermore, the seriousness of the charges may indicate that they are threats to society.
And what the pair are alleged to have done is shocking. According to the charges brought, Campbell and Mouzon had been part of a home invasion that turned into an “execution-style” murder. When resident Kadeem Johnson returned home on that fateful day with his girlfriend, it’s said that they found five men waiting for them. Subsequently, the gang reportedly turned on Johnson.
Furthermore, the gang are alleged to have forced Johnson and his girlfriend inside at gunpoint. They are said to have robbed them of a purse and $3,000, before ransacking the home for any other valuables. Then, in this case, the home invasion was about to take a bloody turn.
It’s alleged that the gang then bound Johnson’s hands with duct tape and forced him to his knees. Then, in his own home, where he should have been safe, Johnson was shot in the head.
However, the men apparently weren’t done. Although it isn’t yet clear which, if any, of the gang pulled the trigger, someone then is said to have turned the gun on Johnson’s girlfriend. She was then thought to have been shot in the hands and chest by the home invaders.
Having allegedly killed Johnson and shot his girlfriend, the men are then thought to have fled the scene. Reportedly, they did so by stealing two vehicles that were on the property. However, the grisly story then takes a strange turn.
Peculiarly, three of the suspects were later apprehended having apparently hidden themselves in woodland. Perhaps they felt it was the best chance of avoiding authorities. However, the trio had not counted on the efficiency of the police’s canine tracking team.
Following a tip from a local citizen, the police had tasked a Berkeley County K-9 unit and SLED bloodhounds with finding the suspects. Subsequently, the dogs led officers into the woods where two of the suspects – Mouzon and Campbell – were discovered and arrested. Campbell Jr. had been earlier apprehended in another wooded area.
According to reports, Mouzon and Campbell had hidden in the forest for over two days before being found. Sheriff Duane Lewis from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department said after the pair were discovered, “They were exhausted, did not put up a fight… we brought EMS in to check ’em out because of the amount of time they’d been in the woods.”
At this time, it is still unclear what motives the men may have had for killing Kadeem Johnson. In July 2016, however, Sheriff Lewis remained optimistic about the matter, stating, “We are hoping, in the next day or so, we will have a better, clearer message of what the motive was in this murder.”
It’s important to remember, though, that $3,000 was stolen, and it’s possible that the men knew that the couple were in possession of this cash beforehand. There may even have been some sort of connection between one or all of the men and Johnson – all of which may have provided not only the motive but also the opportunity for the crimes.
Fortunately, though, despite the attack, Kadeem Johnson’s girlfriend actually survived her gunshot wounds. Subsequently, she is said to be recovering, although it isn’t clear if she was able to identify her attackers. As a result, the manhunt was likely based on help from the public.
Indeed, in a statement, police were quick to thank the locals for their help, with sheriff’s officials saying, “A special thanks goes to the citizens… who were so willing to assist in whatever way possible.” And although it’s sad that two young men were allegedly caught up in this crime, justice must be done. Ultimately, if the two are indeed guilty of any or all of the charges brought against them, a denial of bond is just the start of their problems.