A medical examiner, a toxicologist, and multiple law enforcement officers have testified in the murder trial of Michael Isaac Russ.
On December 22, 2017, Larry Wayne Campbell, 27, of Denton, North Carolina, was shot and killed in a parking lot outside of a barbecue restaurant. According to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Offices, Campbell had been shot by an unknown person and died of his wounds at the scene. The shooter was seen driving away in a black Toyota truck.
Michael Isaac Russ was later apprehended as a suspect in a traffic stop. Russ had a criminal record dating back to 2007 that includes traffic violations, assault, and carrying a concealed gun. Russ was later charged with Campbell’s murder and held at the Randolph County Jail without bail.
Theory of the Case
According to prosecutor King Dozier, Campbell and his friend were riding on their motorcycles to lunch when they rode past Russ’ home. Russ, who was on his way to a Hell’s Angels meeting, started tailgating the two men. He followed them to the parking lot of BBQ Joe’s, where words were exchanged. According to witnesses, Russ then shot Larry Campbell seven times.
However, Russ’ defense team argued that Russ was actually defending himself when he fatally shot Campbell. In his opening statement, defense attorney Thomas Manning explained that Russ was simply a motorcycle lover who was curious to see and meet the riders. He told the jury, “Mr. Russ fires in self-defense because he’s looking down the barrel of a loaded gun.”
Medical Examiner Testimony
The prosecution called Dr. Kimberly Janssen of the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to testify at trial. The court accepted Dr. Janssen as an expert in forensic pathology. Dr. Janssen was the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Campbell’s body after he was fatally shot.
Janssen testified that after she autopsied Campbell’s body, she concluded that he had been healthy prior to his death and the cause of his death was “multiple gunshot wounds and homicide.”
Defense attorney Manning questioned Janssen about the trajectory the bullet took through Campbell’s hand. He said that the trajectory would have been most likely if Campbell had been holding his hand at an angle at which he was holding or aiming a firearm. Janssen did not disagree with Manning about the angle.
Sheriff’s Office Testimony
Captain Steven Nunn of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office testified that he interviewed Roy Pruitt, Campbell’s close friend and an eyewitness to the shooting. Nunn also downloaded information from Russ’ iPhone and computers. Nunn said that Russ’ iPhone had been wiped clean of all data. However, he was able to extract information from two of Russ’ three computers.
Forensic Toxicologist Testimony
Dr. Ruth Winecker, a retired chief toxicologist for the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, tested the Campbell’s blood in 2017. Winecker, who is an expert in forensic toxicology, performed multiple different toxicology tests on the blood. Winecker explained that the test she runs ″look for drugs and poisons.” The only substance found in Campbell’s blood was caffeine.