JOPLIN, Mo. – The first-degree murder trial of a Greene County man accused of engineering the murders of his nephew and the nephew’s wife in 2011 moved into its third day today after a jury was seated and the prosecution began presenting its evidence on Wednesday.
The case is being heard in Jasper County on a change of venue out of Taney County.
Online court records indicate Robert Campbell, 72, of Willard, is accused of two counts of murder in the deaths of Russell and Rebecca Porter, a Willard couple who went missing in April of 2011.
Their skeletal remains were found in July, 2011 in a wooded area near Protem in Taney County. Autopsies performed confirmed the pair had been shot to death.
According to a Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Merrell, another man also charged in connection with the deaths told people weeks before the murder that Campbell would pay him $100,000 to kill the couple.
That man, Tony Friend, and three other people are serving sentences in connection with the deaths:
- Friend pleaded guilty in Dec. 2013 to first-degree murder charges and is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
- His son Phillip Friend pleaded guilty in May 2012 to second-degree murder and felonious restraint. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the restraint charge, but has not yet been sentenced for the murder charges.
- Tony Friend’s wife Windy Friend was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole in May 2014.
- Dusty Ray Hicks was given two life sentences after he pleaded guilty in a plea agreement that changed the first-degree murder charges to second-degree in Dec. 2014.
Court documents say Hicks broke through a window at the Porters’ home to let Tony and Phillip Friend inside. That’s when the three allegedly tied up the Porters and took them by gun point to a remote Taney County area. Windy Friend rode a portion of the way to the area before being dropped off. The documents say Tony Friend took the Porters into the woods and shot them.