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Thursday 15 May 2008

US: Texas man gets 35 years for spitting; saliva was 'deadly weapon'

A 42 year-old HIV-positive man who spat at a police officer during his arrest for being drunk and disorderly has been sentenced to 35 years in prison by a Dallas court and must serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for parole because the jury found that his saliva was a deadly weapon!

Words actually fail me. The man was angry during his trial, and one of his outbursts, "You're all railroading me. I'm an innocent man," rings pretty true to me. Surely one of the worst examples of anti-HIV prejudice in a courtroom I have ever seen.

Story, from The Dallas Morning News, is below.

HIV-positive man gets 35 years for spitting on Dallas police officer
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News
An HIV-positive man with a history of spitting at police officers and biting fellow jail inmates was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday.

Willie Campbell's sentence came one day after the same Dallas County jury convicted the 42-year-old of harassment of a public servant for spitting into the eye and open mouth of Dallas Officer Dan Waller in May 2006.

As Mr. Campbell was being arrested for public intoxication, he began to resist and kicked at the computer screen in the police vehicle, Officer Waller testified during the two-day trial.

"He turns and spits," Officer Waller said. "He hits me in the eye and mouth. Then he told me he has AIDS. I immediately began looking for something to flush my eyes with."

During Tuesday's guilt/innocence phase of the trial, Mr. Campbell testified in his defense and offered to enter his feet as evidence to prove he did not kick the squad car's computer screen, said Aja Reed, a prosecutor who worked on the case.

On Wednesday, as another Dallas officer testified about Mr. Campbell spitting on him in an unrelated incident, Mr. Campbell jumped up and began yelling at the officer and prosecutors, according to another prosecutor in the case, Jenni Morse.

"He said to the officer, 'You're a liar. You're all railroading me. I'm an innocent man.' "

Dallas County sheriff's deputies took Mr. Campbell into custody and placed him in a holding cell, where he listened to the remainder of his sentencing trial. But not before he said to prosecutors, "You're going to rot in hell," Ms. Reed said.

Russ Hendrichs, Mr. Campbell's attorney, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. Because the jury found that Mr. Campbell's HIV-positive saliva was a deadly weapon, he has to serve half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Officer Waller said he was elated with the jury's decision.

"I know it sounds cliché, but this is why you lock someone up, so our streets are safer," Officer Waller said. "Without him out there, our streets are a safer place."


Anonymous said...

It was always my impression that saliva does not contain the virus but blood does. So how is this case legit? There are still some unanswered questions.


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