DA appoints special prosecutor in Campbell case

January 17, 2014 • Local News

District Attorney J[auth] anetta Hicks has appointed Matt Chandler, district attorney for Clovis, as special prosecutor for the Mason Campbell case.

Campbell, 12, is charged with three counts of aggravated assault for Tuesday’s shooting at Berrendo Middle School, where two students and a security guard were injured.

Kendal Sanders, 13, was struck in the shoulder and underwent surgery in Lubbock, Texas. Her condition is improving. The other victim, a 12-year-old boy, was hit in the neck and the face. He remains in critical condition. Security guard Kevin Hayes received minor injuries. The incident received national attention.

In a press release, Hicks said: “Today, I have made the difficult decision to conflict the school shooting that occurred at Berrendo Middle School.”

She cited several reasons. “Roswell is a small community. I was born and raised here, and almost all my family continue to live in Roswell. On the day of the shooting, three of my nieces and two nephews were in the gym. On the front page of our local newspaper was a picture of my father and one of my nephews. The picture clearly depicts how devastated my nephew was to find out one of his friends had done this. … Moreover, I heard my niece’s 911 call on one of the national cable television shows and her fear was evident.”

Hicks and her family have known the Campbells for generations. Mason’s grandmother attends Hicks’ church. She also knows the principal, Susie Martinez, and knows members of the Sanders family. Kendal’s grandfather is a retired police officer with whom Hicks has worked in the past.

In addition, a daughter of an employee of the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office helped Kendal after the shooting.

Hicks feels she has too many connections to the case and her prosecution of it might be conceived as a conflict of interest.

“A prosecutor has a responsibility as a minister of justice and not simply as an advocate. These connections would render any handling of this matter by me subject to questions or criticism to the detriment of all parties involved. My prosecution of the case would become an unwarranted distraction, which would not serve the victims, their families, the child, or the people of Chaves County and the 5th Judicial District.”

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