Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Campbell was charged with the April 1982 killing of Renae Wicklund, her eight-year old daughter Shannah, and her neighbor Barbara Hendrickson, in Clearview , Snohomish County, Washington. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
However, that was not the first time Campbell had harmed the Wicklund household: he had been previously convicted and sentenced for raping Wicklund in 1974. In that trial, she had testified that Campbell had attacked and sodomized her and held a knife to her baby's throat while forcing sex upon her. Campbell served six years of a 30-year sentence in a Washington state prison, and upon his release (which Wicklund did not know about), tracked down Mrs. Wicklund and committed the three horrible murders.
In 1982 he was convicted on charges of capital murder. Campbell had been given a choice between hanging and lethal injection, but refused to make a choice, so under state law, hanging was used. Later in 1996, Washington state law was amended to make lethal injection the default method.
By 1984, the case had gone through the entire state court system, and the conviction and sentence was affirmed by the Washington State Supreme Court. He was sentenced to death on December 17, 1984, but appealed his conviction and sentence for 12 years (a total of three appeals).
On November 7, 1988, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the appeal. Afterwards, however, it was again appealed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by the state, which wished to conclude the case. There was debate over whether hanging was cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional.
On April 14, 1994, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay of execution. On May 3, 1994, Campbell asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put another stay on his execution and rule on his claim that hanging was unconstitutional, but his request went unanswered. His execution was set for May 27.
Campbell refused to cooperate with the execution, so he had to be removed from his cell using pepper spray and hanged strapped to a board. It took prison officials 90 seconds to place a hood on his head and to fix the noose before the trap was opened. He died instantly.
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