Murder, attempted murder, burglary and armed robbery: these were the gruesome crimes teenagers Drake Campbell, 18, and Jacob Mouzon, 17, were both accused of. But when they came face-to-face with a furious judge in a packed courtroom, they did the last thing you’d expect from a pair of hardened thugs. They knew they were going to pay dearly for their crimes, but when they saw just how far the judge was willing to go for justice, they started bawling like babies.
Two Of Five
The teens did not act alone, however. Campbell and Mouzon were only two out of a five-man team linked to an unnamed gang charged with the home invasion and subsequent murder. In fact, Campbell’s older brother, Kenneth Jr. was another member of the group and had also been arrested. Needless to say, the town of Huger, South Carolina was thrilled when this violent group was finally taken down. But when it came time for judgment, not everyone could stomach the judge’s extreme punishment.
Pleading FamilyYou may not agree with the judge’s sentence, but he clearly had his reasons. The crime in question was the brutal murder of fellow gang member Kadeem Johnson. When Johnson and his girlfriend returned home, they were greeted by the chilling sight of the 5 men waiting for them at the door. And that’s when things went from bad to sickeningly worse.
What the high-schoolers are alleged to have done is disturbing. Not only was Johnson brutally murdered, but before the execution, he and his girlfriend were forced into his home at gunpoint. At that point, the teens robbed them of a purse and $3,000 before they ransacked the place for any other valuables. But the men weren’t happy with their loot. Afterall, they were here for something far more sinister.
Johnson wasn’t murdered as a result of a struggle or even as they exited the house. What they did was far worse. They forced the petrified man to get on his hands and knees where they then tied him up with duct tape, taunted him, and then shot him in the back of the head, execution-style. But there was just one loose end: the girl. And what they did with her is the reason the judge was blinded by rage.
Quickly after the gang shot and killed Kadeem, one of the members turned the gun on his girlfriend. Horrified after witnessing the murder of her boyfriend, she held her hands up and begged the men to let her live. And although it is still unclear to law enforcement who is the culprit, Johnson’s girlfriend was shot in the hands and chest. As the details continued to be revealed, it only got worse.
Fleeing The Scene
After shooting Johnson and his girlfriend, the crew fled the scene. They raced off the property by stealing two cars. But instead of leaving town, Mouzon, Campbell and his older brother made a curious decision: they decided to hide out in a nearby wooded area. The police would never expect them to hide so close to the scene of the crime, right?
With the help of their special bloodhound unit and an anonymous tip, local law enforcement was able to track down the 3 murders in no time. After nearly two days of hiding out in the woods, the suspects didn’t look great. They were treated by EMT’s but didn’t sustain any threatening injuries. But by the time the judge was through with them, they probably wished they had never gotten out there alive.
As the two teens appeared before the judge for the first time, Mouzon’s family saw it as their last chance to save the boy. They begged the judge to go easy on him, essentially stating that while what he did was terrible, he will never break the law again. His sister even pleaded, “Jacob’s my best friend. I know what he did was wrong, I completely understand that, but he’s not a bad person.” His sister had hoped that the judge would at least approve bond, but she had no idea what kind of judge she was dealing with.
But Mouzon’s family wasn’t the only one speaking up for the teens. Campell’s mother pleaded to the court that, “These kids are not awful, terrible kids.” In an effort to portray her son as an outstanding American citizen, his mom even told the judge that Campell signed up for the Navy. But her words had fallen on deaf ears. The judge was ready to drop the hammer, and it was heavy.
Before the teens were convicted, family members begged the court to grant bail, but the prosecutor begged for the opposite, citing the difficulties during the investigation,“ due to the violent nature of the crime… and also the fact it took four law enforcement agencies two days to apprehend [the offenders].” As the people waited for the judge’s response, you could hear a pin drop.
As the boy’s waited to hear the response, the seriousness of the situation started to settle in, and both started sobbing. It may have been the first time the consequences of their actions became real for them, but one thing is for sure–in that moment they looked like nothing more than scared, helpless kids.
According to South Carolina Law, judges are unable to grant or deny bail when it comes to murder. Therefore, regardless of the judge’s personal feelings on the matter, the young men were going to have to wait it out. It was then that the emotions that come along with losing your freedom seemed to wash over the young men, like a killer wave. In every sense of the word, it was heartbreaking to see.
The Next Step
Although family hoped that by the time they reached circuit court the teens would receive bond, it was highly unlikely. Although they are just kids, their crimes were those of seasoned criminals. And many felt that they were not only a flight risk, but a continuous risk to the safety of the community. So which one is it? Are they naughty, or are they nice?
All of the suspects are still awaiting trial, but law enforcement is determined to get justice for Kadeem and his girlfriend, who is said to be recovering. It turns out, the denial of bail is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems they are facing. We hope that Kadeem’s family finds comfort in the fact that the law is not going to let this murder go unsolved, and that he rests in peace.