Man Charged with Homicide After Shooting Neighbor, Despite Self-Defense Claim
In October 2013, Joseph Campbell fatally shot his neighbor, 53-year-old Timothy Newman, in a dispute over land access in Lewis and Clark County. Campbell, age 67, claimed that he shot Newman out of self-dense after Newman pointed his gun at him. In pursuit of justice and fair compensation, Newman’s widow, Jackie Newman, came to Hoyt & Blewett, PLLC and our wrongful death attorneys to file a civil lawsuit against Campbell. We are pleased to announce we were able to secure a $1 million settlement on behalf of Mrs. Newman after initial resistance from the responding insurance company and other case complications.
Details of the Newman Gun Negligence Case
Reports from authorities indicate that Timothy Newman and Campbell were involved in a long-standing land dispute regarding trail access, giving prosecutors reason to believe that Campbell’s shooting of Newman was deliberate. Statements from members of law enforcement also revealed that Campbell had a track record of conflict with neighbors, and police had received at least 24 calls about his behavior in the three years leading up to the day he killed Newman.
According to statements from Campbell himself, Newman pulled out a revolver from behind his back as he approached the gate dividing their property, cocked the hammer, and pointed it directly at Campbell. Campbell stated that he then drew his gun and fired it at Newman, who then began to get up, at which point Campbell shot him a second time in the back, killing him. However, forensic reports suggest that the first shot was fired into Newman’s back, severing his spinal cord, and that the second shot grazed Newman’s chest after he had been shot the first time and fallen over.
Our Civil Claim Filed in Response to the Killing
A contentious, protracted trial resulted in a hung jury and stayed Jackie Newman’s civil lawsuit, pending the conclusion of the criminal case. During this time, Campbell’s insurance provider refused to provide any financial amount to Mrs. Newman, defending under a reservation of rights. The insurer sent a detailed explanation of Campbell’s homeowners’ policy, which can provide up to $1,000,000 in liability coverage and $1,000 in medical payment coverage, as justified. In this letter, the insurer attempted to cite several policy exclusions to avoid payment of the claim.
After Campbell testified that he shot Newman in self-defense and also pleaded no contest to negligent homicide, though, the case began to look differently. Policy definitions of what is an “occurrence” or an “accident” were brought into question, as well as what actions can be excluded from a question of premises liability in such a situation. We pressed the insurer with a demand for the policy limits of $1 million and $1,000, with a notification that the case would be taken to a jury trial without limits otherwise. In response, the maximized settlement offer was provided, which our client accepted.
Legal Advocates for the Most Trying of Times
As experienced wrongful death attorneys, we are familiar with the devastating effects of gun-related negligence in Great Falls and other communities throughout Montana. We routinely meet families who have lost loved ones due to negligent mishandling of firearms, including situations where such recklessness is claimed to be “self-defense.” If someone you love has been killed because of another person’s carelessness, impulsivity, or haste while using a firearm, seek legal representation immediately and take action to hold the responsible party accountable. Hoyt & Blewett PLLC is here to make certain you do not go through this tough time alone, and to pursue justice tenaciously on behalf of you and your loved one.
Call (406) 233-1302 to speak to a wrongful death lawyer in Great Falls today.