A man who fatally shot a 24-year-old San Jose police officer in the head in 2001 was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of
parole today in Santa Clara County Superior Court. DeShawn Campbell, 30, was found guilty in May of second-degree murder for shooting Officer Jeffrey Fontana on Oct. 28, 2001. Campbell was also found guilty of felony possession of a gun. After San Jose police Chief Rob Davis and Fontana’s family members spoke, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Diane Northway announced the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, which includes a separate sentence of 25 years to life for the gun possession charge. Northway said that the court system could not meet the challenge of ameliorating the residual pain that has been caused by the “heinous, brutal and senseless crime.” “He was a valuable person and an outstanding young man,” Northway said. “This tragedy is great.” Davis said Oct. 28 was as tragic and vivid a day for the Police Department as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were to all Americans. “It’s still very raw for us,” Davis said. “When you murder a police officer, it’s a murder of every officer.” Fontana’s grief-stricken mother, Sandy, called Campbell a “wannabe gangster” and appealed to the judge to impose upon him the maximum sentence. Campbell was deemed to be mildly mentally retarded last December, meaning he is not eligible for the death penalty. Fontana’s brothers, Jason and Greg, were also overcome with emotion as they asked the judge to consider a life sentence. Jason Fontana lamented that his three children would never get to know their uncle. “Let this court do what it should have justly done years ago,” Fontana said. Greg Fontana fought back tears as he denounced Campbell as a coward for murdering his brother as his career was budding. “Not only were your actions foolish, but you acted like a coward to place the blame on someone else,” Fontana said. “I hope every day in prison is the worst day of your life.” Campbell had testified during the trial that his friend Rodney McNary was the one who killed Fontana, using a gun Campbell had with him for protection after a fight broke out at a party. Campbell said he hid from authorities for days because he feared harm from police or retaliation from McNary or his gang associates if he
“snitched.” Prosecutor Lane Liroff argued there was no physical evidence to link McNary to the scene and alleged that Campbell hid out because he was guilty, not afraid of retribution. The prosecution alleged that Campbell saw Fontana approach his car, panicked and shot him to avoid being detained for the two active warrants out for his arrest at the time of Fontana’s death. Campbell, wearing a brown shirt over an orange jumpsuit, displayed no visible emotion throughout the testimonies in court today, but he did turn to watch a short slideshow of photos of Fontana throughout his lifetime on a courtroom screen. At a late morning news conference, Sandy Fontana said it was a
bittersweet day for her family after enduring a difficult seven and a half years. “This doesn’t give me closure. My son is not with me,” Fontana
said. “But we can move on and get our lives back on track.”
Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.