Judge urged to reject ‘second shooter’ theory in ByWard Market murder

Donald Musselman, convicted of second-degree murder, says another teenager fired the gun that killed Ottawa musician Markland Campbell.

Article content

It was supposed to be a moment of celebration for Markland Campbell and his HalfSizeGiants bandmates.

The local hip-hop group was set to release their first single in over 10 years when Campbell was tragically shot and killed in ByWard Market on June 7, 2019 while defending his teenage daughter.

Article content

She had rushed from work after her daughter told her she was being harassed by two teenagers, and Campbell was fatally shot during a confrontation with a group of youths on the busy market streets.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The single was released the following morning along with an obituary for Campbell, 42, whose stage name was Jahiant Jah.

Nearly five years later, after a lengthy second-degree murder trial that ended with a jury’s guilty verdict in December, her killer maintains his claim that another teenager fired the fatal shots that night.

Donald Musselman, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, was found guilty of second-degree murder in Campbell’s death on December 20, 2023.

He testified in his own defense at his trial last year when he told jurors that it was another teen in their group who fired the gun.

That teen, now 22, also testified in Musselman’s defense and claimed that it was he, not Musselman, who shot Campbell.

“I did not do this,” Musselman repeated to Superior Court Judge Anne London-Weinstein during his April 25 sentencing hearing.

“We fundamentally disagree with the jury’s verdict and our position is that this jury wrongfully convicted him,” said his attorney, Leo Russomanno.

Crown prosecutors urged the judge to dismiss another shooter’s theory, saying the jury had already “rejected that narrative” at the end of Musselman’s trial.

Advertisement 3

Article content

There were other details that the jury never heard.

The teenager who attempted to take the fall for shooting Campbell is currently serving a maximum 10-year juvenile sentence for the first-degree murder of another rising star in the local hip-hop scene, Manyok “Manny” Akol.

Akol, an aspiring rapper and soccer star who performed under the stage name FTG Metro, was killed and three other people suffered life-changing injuries when a gunman opened fire in a targeted shooting inside a Gilmour Street AirBnB in the morning of January 8, 2020.

The 17-year-old who assisted the shooter and acted as a lookout during the murder was found guilty of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in June 2022. He cannot be identified under Juvenile Criminal Justice regulations. Law and the publication ban on his name was expanded during the Musselman trial.

His testimony spanned six days in November 2023, including several long pauses and adjournments. The jury was unaware of his previous murder conviction when he claimed responsibility for Campbell’s murder, which occurred seven months before the Gilmour Street shooting.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Information about an accused person’s criminal history is typically closely guarded in jury trials, where juries are instructed to focus solely on the specific allegations and evidence presented at trial.

“It is an undisputed fact that the jury unanimously rejected extremely significant parts of (Musselman’s and the teen’s) accounts of the shooting itself…namely, the identity of the shooter,” Deputy District Attorney Matthew Geigen-Miller said in the hearing. sentencing hearing last month. . “The jury rejected the central elements of his narrative.”

Geigen-Miller also asked the judge to reject another defense argument made during sentencing, where Musselman’s defense attorneys claimed that Campbell was armed with a knife the night he was shot.

Russomanno told the judge to ignore the long-standing “media narrative” that Campbell was unarmed at the time of the ByWard Market murder.

Campbell’s daughter was “out of danger” and safe in her father’s car when Campbell, according to Russomanno’s version of the altercation, angrily “harassed” the group of teenagers who had harassed and intimidated his daughter earlier that night. Musselman was not involved in the intimidation incident, the defense said.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Russomanno said Campbell’s folding knife was found along the road where he staggered after being shot and collapsed in the Market, which that night was packed with revelers enjoying a Toronto Raptors playoff game.

“The only reasonable inference from that evidence is that the knife was out and partially open,” Russomanno said.

“The only inference from the video evidence and the physical evidence is that Mr. Campbell harassed this group… We say this is an essential factor for the judge to consider an appropriate sentence.”

Musselman had been a victim of gun violence before, his attorney said, and did not routinely carry a gun. Musselman was shot and wounded at a Vanier Burger King on Montreal Road in January 2019.

The Crown responded by again urging the judge to reject the defense narrative.

“There is no evidence that would allow a judge or jury to conclude that Markland Campbell was armed during this altercation,” Geigen-Miller said.

“There is nothing in this jury’s verdict to infer that he was armed… No independent witness saw a knife or anything else in Markland Campbell’s hands. Bystanders who testified saw nothing on Markland Campbell’s hands.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“A gun would have attracted attention and no one noticed.”

Additionally, Geigen-Miller told the judge that the folding knife found on the trail was not an “offensive” weapon.

“It is a folding knife that had the insignia of a union. It wasn’t a knife… it wasn’t anything suspicious. “It is impossible to conclude, considering the odds, that Markland Campbell actually brandished it or used it in any way in this altercation.”

Other personal items belonging to Campbell were also found along the route he took as he staggered, including his car keys and wallet that had fallen from his pockets.

Witnesses were questioned at length “and none of them noticed anything” on Campbell’s hands, Geigen-Miller said. “The only person who was noted to have something in his hand was Mr. Musselman, and witnesses saw a gun.”

donald musselman
Donald Musselman of Ottawa was found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of father and musician Markland “Jahiant” Campbell at ByWard Market on Friday, June 7, 2019. Photo by ott /jpg

The gun was later recovered at Musselman’s home when he was arrested, and eyewitnesses described the shooter as wearing the same clothing Musselman was seen wearing on surveillance video.

Musselman was also charged with possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking and pleaded guilty to that charge in November 2022, before the start of his murder trial.

Advertisement 7

Article content

While in custody awaiting trial, Musselman was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly brutally beating fellow inmate Zakaria Sheek-Hussein inside the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Center on February 24, 2021.

Sheek-Hussein died five months later and the assault charge against Musselman was upgraded to second-degree murder. Those allegations have not been proven in court.

The ByWard Market murder was “motiveless, impulsive and senseless,” Geigen-Miller told the judge.

“He is there with his friends with a loaded gun in his pocket, he has fentanyl for sale… and when (Campbell) approaches his group about a dispute in which he is not even involved, he does not hesitate to fire two shots at just about any moment.” thing,” Geigen-Miller said.

“Kills a man in cold blood at the slightest challenge.”

The Crown asked the judge to impose a sentence of life in prison with a period of 18 years of parole ineligibility, while the defense responded with 11 years of parole ineligibility.

A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with a term ranging from 10 to 25 years until the person can apply for parole.

The jury was also asked to recommend a period of parole ineligibility for Musselman; six jurors recommended 10 years, one recommended 12 years, and three recommended 20 years.

London-Weinstein will give her sentence on May 21.

Musselman’s trial for the prison murder of Sheek-Hussein is scheduled for early 2025.

[email protected]

Recommended by Editorial

Article content

Leave a Comment