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Two Ex-Convicts Found Guilty of Murdering L.A. Policeman

Sept. 4, 1963 - Two ex-convicts accused of killing a Los Angeles policeman in a remote Kern County onion field were found guilty of first-degree murder by a Superior Court jury today. Gregory U. Powell, 30, and Jimmy Lee Smith, 32, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. After evidence is presented at the penalty trial, the jury will deliberate to determine if life imprisonment or death sentences should be given to either or both men. Powell and Smith were accused of killing policeman Ian James Campbell, 31, in an onion field about 25 miles south of Bakersfield, Calif., March 10 after they kidnapped him and policeman Karl Hettinger on a Hollywood street. Hettinger, 28, was a key witness against the men. He testified how Campbell was deliberately shot and how he escaped from the ex-convicts in a hail of bullets. Smith claimed at the trial that he never shot at Campbell. And he said today after the verdict was read that Powell repeatedly told him while in jail that “he would take me to the gas chamber with him.”Powell, on the other hand, testified his gun accidentally discharged and he did not intend to kill the officer but that Smith then fired four times at Campbell. “I admit the responsibility to some extent because I put the man [Campbell] in the position to be killed,” Powell said as he was being returned to his cell. But he denied telling Smith he would “take him to the gas chamber.”


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