May 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

With jail sentence, Campbell to miss start of school year, football season

Jayru Campbell and defense attorney Jeffrey Edison (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit — Cass Tech football standout Jayru Campbell was placed on a 15-month probation and given 60 days in the Wayne County Jail as punishment for body slamming a school security guard earlier this year.

As part of a plea agreement Campbell, 17, and his attorney agreed to earlier this month, Campbell apologized Friday in court in comments directed at the security guard who was injured in the Jan. 22 incident but not present Friday.

“I apologize to Mr. Robert Donovan,” Campbell told the court. “It was not my intention to cause you pain.”

Campbell was also ordered random drug testing, psychological counseling and anger management classes. His punishment also involves 75 hours of community service. Campbell also will be enrolled in a mentorship program.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny said Friday if Campbell fails to stay out of trouble, he will come back before the court and be sentenced as an adult. Kenny said he sentenced Campbell to the same punishment whether he was a “football star or a quiet student.”

“I need to strike a balance,” said Kenny. “Balance on one hand to give Mr. Campbell a chance to move into his adult life without this (the case) hanging over his head but with imposing the degree of accountability for school behavior that cannot be tolerated,” Kenny said.“Most fortunately for the complainant, and fortunately for you, Mr. Campbell, the security guard was not hurt more seriously.”

Campbell is to turn himself in for his jail sentence July 28 after completing summer school classes. He will also be credited for three days of time served.

He originally was scheduled to begin his jail time June 16 but Kenny and Campbell’s attorney Jeffrey Edison hammered out a new date to give Campbell a chance to attend summer school June 23 to July 25.

Campbell will be able to avoid a criminal record if he successfully completes the youth probation program, Kenny ruled. Kenny said he took into account the “circumstances” in Campbell’s life in determining the sentence. Kenny did not elaborate what those circumstances were.

Edison said the teen did not know before the start of the hearing that he would be going to jail but that it was the punishment decided on by the judge and that Campbell will deal with it. The teen will be housed away from adult offenders and will not be in the adult lockup of the Wayne County Jail.

“He accepts it, and he’s going to move forward,” said Edison, who was flanked by Campbell’s grandparents during an impromptu news conference outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice following the sentencing.

Campbell left with friends just earlier, as directed by his attorney, without commenting to reporters. He will miss some of the start of the school year in September because he will be serving the 57-day jail time but Edison said it was the most “appropriate adjustment” for his jail time and his school schedule.

Edison said Campbell “is focused on getting out of high school” and not college offers at this time.

“He has a lot on his plate,” added Edison.

Thomas Wilcher, Campbell’s football coach at Detroit Cass Tech, was disappointed and in a somber mood early Friday when he was told of the sentencing, in particular the 60-day jail sentence, handed down by Kenny.

“I was hoping it would be different,” Wilcher said. “It’s sad. It’s a bad day to see what he has to go through. We’ll work through it. He’ll stay positive. He’ll stay positive in the community. He’ll stay positive in school.”

Campbell has been the starting quarterback at Cass Tech since the second game of his freshman season in 2011. That season, and the following, Campbell led Cass Tech to the Division 1 title, the first two in school history.

Before this past season Campbell accepted a scholarship offer by Michigan State. Other top-rated schools, including Alabama, had offered him a scholarship.

This past season Cass Tech lost to Detroit Catholic Central in the semifinals. In that game Campbell was ejected for throwing a punch at an opposing player.

Subsequently, Campbell was suspended from school for three days by school administrators.

The Detroit Public Schools also suspended Campbell for the first game of the upcoming season.

Campbell will be released on Sept. 23, if he is not released sooner because of good behavior. If he returns to Cass Tech on Sept. 24, he would have missed 16 school days. He would also miss the first four games of the football season and would be eligible to play Sept. 26.

It is highly unlikely the administrators and Wilcher would allow Campbell to play that soon. The Michigan High School Athletic Association does not have a rule stating an individual player must practice a certain amount of days. MHSAA rules, with regards to the number of practice days, only pertain to a team, not an individual.

The first day of practice without full equipment is Aug. 11. The first day of contact drills, with pads, is Aug. 14. The day a team is allowed to play is Aug. 28.

To Wilcher, these facts were moot. He said football is secondary in Campbell’s life at this point.

“Football is not the most important thing,” he said. “We are trying to produce a productive young man. He could be a writer, for instance. A teacher. You have a young man who can contribute to society. The most important thing is his life, not football.

“He’ll learn a whole new mentality (in jail). He’ll go in and have to defend his honor. Is 60 days good? Who knows? Will we lose another young man?”

Edison said the plea agreement and sentence will allow Campbell to avoid the school “pipeline to prison” that many complain has ensnared young men of color.

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act Campbell was sentenced under is a probation program for offenders from age 17 to 20 that allows them to avoid a criminal record once they successfully complete the program.

Campbell had been charged with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, which was dropped under the plea agreement. Instead, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a misdemeanor.

Campbell could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison under the original charge.

The security guard Donovan suffered a scalp laceration and an "open wound to the lip," according to Assistant Prosecutor Kam Towns.

Campbell, 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, was allowed to return to high school last month.

Vic Michaels, the director of athletics for the Detroit Catholic schools, was surprised by the jail sentence.

“That’s not fair,” Michaels said. “He’s 17 years old. He goes to Cass Tech. There are tests you have to take to get into Cass Tech. It’s not like any ordinary (Detroit Public) school. That’s not right.”

Wilcher said the healing process will take much longer than the 57 days will spend in jail.

bwilliams@detnews.com
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