Campbell gets 9 years in prison in shooting death

Rondree Campbell

DOVER — A Milford man was sentenced to nine years in prison after opting not to contest charges against him connected to a shooting death in late 2015.

Rondree Campbell answered “Yes, sir,” several times when a judge asked if he understood the ramifications of accepting a manslaughter conviction, which comes with a mandatory minimum of two years maximum incarceration.

Several other violent felony charges against him were not further prosecuted.

Middletown resident Sylvester Williams, 36, was shot to death on Nov. 1, 2015, as he helped a family member move at a residence in the unit block of South New Street in downtown Dover. He was perhaps not the intended target of the gunfire, according to Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. during the 10-minute session Wednesday.

Campbell, 22 at the time of the incident, was originally charged with first-degree murder, before plea negotiations began, along with several firearm and reckless endangering counts.

Before sentencing, the victim’s sister Tracy Williams spoke before the court on the impact of the loss. She described her brother as a “very humble, quiet, laid back, workaholic” who was a single parent focused on providing for his now 14-year-old son.

Ms. Williams described her now-fatherless nephew as “not handling it very well” along with her mother and sister who were unable to attend Wednesday’s session.

“(Campbell) knows what happened … God knows what happened,” said Ms. Williams, who described the act as first-degree murder and pushed for a maximum sentencing penalty.

“My brother will not have a life, he’s gone,” she said. “ … I have to forgive to be able to move on.”

In closing, the grieving sister urged Campbell to use the opportunity behind bars to “think and (reflect) on your life and the choices you make and be a better person.”

Afterward co-prosecutor Deputy Attorney General Ken Haltom told Ms. Williams her “comments were the best I’ve ever heard in sentencing, so thank you, thank you very much.”

Campbell chose not to address the court when offered the opportunity.

Judge Witham lamented the loss of Mr. Williams, someone who was “loved by his family, his friends and perhaps his co-workers as well.”

Deputy Attorney General Nicole Hartman also prosecuted the case, which was scheduled for a jury trial on Monday before the plea agreement occurred.

Mr. Campbell was also indicted on two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, nine counts of first-degree reckless endangering, and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, which were not further prosecuted after the plea.

The defendant was credited with time served beginning on Nov. 3, 2015, though the court said the Delaware Department of Correction can calculate the date if he was in error.

A year of Level III probation will follow Campbell’s release. He was given a no-contact order with the victim’s family, along with several bystanders present the night of the shooting.

Judge Witham urged Campbell to acquire a General Education Development degree to better job prospects upon release from prison.

The judge closed with “That’s all, good luck to you.”

Earlier, the court suppressed statements made by Campbell during interviews with investigating Dover Police due to improper adherence to Miranda rights guidelines. Defense attorney Ron Phillips argued for the suppression.

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