Accused killer in Granville County murder trial testifies in his defense

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Eric Campbell takes the stand

Accused killer Eric Campbell took the stand in his own defense Thursday in Oxford. The 23-year-old faces the death penalty in the New Year's Eve 2014 murders of 73-year-old Jerome Faulkner and his 62-year-old wife, Dora, at their Oak Hill home. Their deaths made national headlines when the accused killers set off on a multi-state crime spree from Texas to West Virginia.

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Campbell and his father were arrested for the crimes, but 52-year-old Edward Campbell later killed himself in Raleigh's Central Prison. Now his son is putting all the blame on his dad as he tries to stay off death row.

In his opening statement more than a week ago, Campbell's attorney William Durham said the young man's only goal throughout was to survive.

RELATED: Prosecutor says man can't blame father for murders

"Ed Campbell committed suicide and the state's strategy changed. Ed Campbell left his son holding the bag," said Durham.

He described the father as an extremely violent man who terrorized his son, and that was the central message of Campbell's testimony Thursday.

Ed Campbell "liked to use his hands" when abusing family members, Eric Campbell told the court. He described being beaten, sometimes with a belt or tools, so badly he would be "black" from his feet to his neck. Campbell told the jury his father hit him with a gun when he was just 4 or 5 years old.

Campbell recalled beginning to take Adderall in sixth grade to calm hyperactivity but told the jury his father started taking his son's prescription medication the very next year and Eric never went back to it.

Campbell recalled his father severely beating the family dog, kicking in the teeth of a man and laughing about it, as well as other brutal memories. But it wasn't just violence. Ed Campbell, according to his son, made himself busy for eight years manufacturing methamphetamine.

Eric said his father made everyone in the family do "time in the shop," cleaning dishes and tools, and frequently purchase Sudafed to make the drug.

Campbell also described starting community college but stopping after his father started taking the money for his classes. But as manipulative and abusive of a person as Eric Campbell made his father out to be, Granville County Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps painted a different picture.

In her opening remarks, Capps said Eric Campbell raised money to bond his father out of jail in Texas and was there when chemicals and other supplies intended for murdering someone were purchased before the Faulkners were killed.

"Deliberate decisions, conscious choices," she said.

In his testimony, Eric Campbell laid out in graphic terms what happened on that late-December night in 2014. How he and his father were driving through Oak Hill - they were coming from Texas where Ed Campbell was wanted by authorities; how they stopped to camp out and were going to go hunt deer with a cross-bow but instead wound up at the Faulkners' house; how his father knocked on the door saying their truck had broken down; how he heard a gunshot and his father came to get him; how the house smelled and what it felt like to see Jerome Faulkner on the bed with an arrow sticking out of his chest; how his father made him search through the Faulkners' office drawers looking for paperwork and money; and how the two took the bodies with them before torching the home when they left.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE MURDERS AND WHY THE FAULKNERS WERE TARGETED

Asked why they took the bodies, Eric said his father wanted to "make a mask of his face and wear it."

"It was crazy," Campbell told jurors. "It was utterly crazy."

After the murders, the Campbells drove to West Virginia where they got into a shootout with police there the next day and investigators found the bodies in the truck bed under a mattress.

Campbell is the first defendant to face a capital punishment trial in Granville County in 25 years.

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