Connecticut court upholds conviction of man who shot to death motorcycle club leader in 2008

HARTFORD, Connecticut — Connecticut's second-highest court upheld Monday the murder conviction of a former Watertown man serving a 40-year prison sentence for killing a motorcycle club leader in Torrington in 2008.

Kevin Campbell, 58, argued that he shot Roland Lagasse to death in self-defense outside the Forbidden Motorcycle Club's headquarters, and he wouldn't have been arrested if Connecticut had a stand-your-ground law.

But the state Appellate Court rejected all of Campbell's arguments, which included that prosecutorial impropriety deprived him of a fair trial and the trial judge wrongly rejected defense expert testimony.

Witnesses said Lagasse got into an argument with Campbell's brother about whether a new club member should receive his first-year patch and the disagreement spilled outside, where Lagasse punched Campbell's brother. Campbell then approached Legasse, who said, "What, you want some too?" Campbell replied, "Yeah. ... You're a dead man," and shot Legasse, according to testimony at trial.

Campbell also testified that when he pulled the gun on Legasse, it fired by accident, but his actions were in self-defense.

Campbell's lawyer, Moira Buckley, said Monday that she plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. She declined to comment further.

Buckley had argued that the prosecutor, David Shepack, committed impropriety in his closing argument to the jury. At one point in Shepack's argument he said, "So pay attention to those (jury) instructions, because accident and self-defense are legally inconsistent."

The Appellate Court disagreed with Buckley.

"The prosecutor properly pointed out to the jury that the defendant had inconsistent defenses, and that the jury could rely on only one theory: either self-defense or unintentional discharge," Judge F. Herbert Gruendel wrote in the 3-0 ruling.

The court also ruled that the trial judge wasn't wrong to not allow the testimony of two expert witnesses for the defense. The court said the proposed testimony of the experts — a psychiatrist and a gun expert — was about the phenomenon of the "fight or flight" mentality and the potential for guns to fire by accident, two concepts well-known by the average person.

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