A man charged with snapping a cellphone photo of a 14-year-old witness testifying during an Allentown homicide hearing was sending a clear message — to intimidate the teen and silence him — authorities said Tuesday.
A deputy sheriff testified Tuesday that when Jaqueze A. Campbell, 22, raised his cellphone May 16 while seated in the second row of the Lehigh County Courthouse, the deputy heard a shutter click.
And minutes before that preliminary hearing for Campbell's friend, Charles Washington, another sheriff had warned Campbell in the courtroom hallway that he couldn't use his cellphone in court.
Campbell was wearing a "Free Chapo" sweatshirt that day, a reference to Washington's street name, authorities said. Washington is awaiting trial on homicide and robbery charges in an Allentown slaying.
First Deputy District Attorney Steven Luksa said Tuesday at Campbell's preliminary hearing on the cellphone charges that Campbell was clearly trying to stop the 14-year-old witness from testifying in the homicide case.
Luksa walked into the courtroom audience, standing in the same spot where he said Campbell was seated when he snapped the photo. Luksa held up a cellphone, pointing it at the witness stand about 10 feet away.
"The message [Campbell] wants to send is to stop testifying," Luksa said. "The message we want to send is that it isn't allowed."
After the hearing, District Judge Robert Halal ordered Campbell to face trial on charges of intimidation of a witness and obstruction of the administration of law. Campbell remains in Lehigh County Jail under $52,500 bail.
Campbell, of the 600 block of South Front Street in Allentown, was arrested in June after he ran a stop sign in Allentown and then gave police a fake name, according to court records.
Two Lehigh County deputy sheriffs testified Tuesday that before the May hearing, Campbell was in the courthouse hallway taking photos of police officers and detectives.
Campbell's photo activity was spotted by a county detective, who asked a deputy sheriff to warn Campbell to stop. Deputy sheriff Ron Kostik testified Tuesday that deputies "had trouble" the past few months with people using their cellphones to take photos at hearings, although signs warn that neither cellphones nor photos are permitted in court.
Campbell said he understood when he was warned not to use the phone in court.
But deputy sheriff Scott Dergham testified that, as Washington's preliminary hearing unfolded, he saw Campbell raise the cellphone and heard a "shutter click" noise that he knew meant a photo had been taken. Dergham said he took Campbell's cellphone and led Campbell out of the courtroom.
Campbell's attorney, Robert Long, argued that Campbell made no threats after he allegedly snapped the photo.
But Luksa, in a facetious manner, said the intent was clear: "It could be that [Campbell] was saying, 'Look at this courtroom filled with majesty and splendor and I love the way the light strikes this juvenile witness so much that I need to take a photo.'
"It could be that he snapped the photo because he works for The Morning Call and will write an article," he said. "But, that's clearly not the case. He wanted to stop this juvenile from testifying."
Washington is charged with robbing and killing Lionel Blackledge on April 13 in the 100 block of East Cumberland Street. During the preliminary hearing, the 14-year-old boy testified that Washington had asked him for help in robbing a man of marijuana and that he saw Washington shoot Blackledge.
Luksa said Tuesday that despite the cellphone incident, Washington's preliminary hearing continued. Washington is awaiting trial in county court.
At Tuesday's hearing, Halal also ordered Campbell to face trial on charges of false identification to police and various charges related to the June 25 traffic stop. Campbell will also face trial on charges that he had a small amount of marijuana and a suspended driver's license when stopped April 30 in Allentown.
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