I have been slacking the last few weeks when it comes to working on my blog but I knew that I needed to sit down today and work on it. I have a few already researched but they weren't “grabbing” me as I say and the motivation was not there. I generally start working through my list of cases to research (It's up to nearly 1500 now although I have done many) but knowing the dreary day outside was not going to make things better I decided to start with one that I saw an episode of Fear thy Neighbor about last night.
Once again I was shown how bias and loose with the facts so many of these dramatic shows based on true stories can be. The Fear they Neighbor episode told the story of Richard Day, a man who, by their claims, had been so angered by the treatment of his step-son by a family of neighbor children that while in a fit of rage had ran over and killed one of the family members on accident. Now, I do believe that the fact that Robert Campbell was hit and drug by Day's truck was an accident but the episode not only left out the fact that Day had issues with more neighborhood children than just the Rosser family but they also left out many issues that Day himself had.
I cannot be certain just when Richard Day, his wife, Adele and her son Walter moved to Tamarac Florida. Newspaper articles would indicate that they had lived there for “years” prior to the incident that would later put Richard Day in prison, while the television show indicated that it was not nearly that long in time. Newspaper articles indicate that at the time of accident Walter was twelve years old and as I recall the television show said he was twelve when they moved so things are not completely clear. The Tamarac Florida area apparently had been predominantly an area for retirees but there were a few families scattered throughout the neighborhood with children. One was the home of Fred and Connie Rosser. Fred and Connie lived with their three boys, plus Connie's son from a previous relationship and Connie's brother, Robert Campbell. If you were to go solely by the television show the Rosser boys would be pretty much the only children, at least near Walters age, for quite some time in the neighborhood. In fact, it was not until late in the episode in which they introduced other children who they claim had recently moved in but if we believe the television show the only problems would lie between the Day and Rosser families and apparently that was not completely true.
In doing my research for this case there was very little about specifics that happened prior to the incident on October 31, 2001. There were slight mentions that Day had stated his stepson had been harassed “for years” by neighborhood children and comments that Adele Day stated that both her son and husband were taunted by the children but again the television show only focused on three of the Rosser children. If we believe at least part of the show then we are told that the Rosser children (although I have to guess there were other neighbor children involved) bullied and taunted Walter and stole several items from him. According to the show they stole a fishing knife and a Game-Boy and some games before things got really heated in the neighborhood. The show would indicate that the school became involved after the stealing of the Game-Boy but that things were taken to another level after Walter found some of his games at the Rosser home and took them. Connie Rosser would call the Day home and accuse Walter of stealing from her children but when Richard Day learned that the games were actually Walter's to begin with he went to the Rosser home and caused a scene, having an argument with the adults in the home. Soon after it seems that the Day home was broken into but the only thing that was taken was Walter's bike. Again, if we are to believe the show then we know that the Rosser boys had told Walter that they were going to steal his bike. Investigators that were at the scene were interviewed and stated that Richard Day had indicated that he was certain that the Rosser boys were responsible for the break in of his home but it appears that they could never prove anything. But keep in mind that this is all information that was given in the television show and very little could be found while I was researching the case.
As far as Richard Day is concerned the television show indicated that he had been pushed to the point in which culminated into the events of October 31, 2001. It did mention that Richard had become depressed after suffering a heart attack and other medical issues that prevented him from working and supporting his family and there were slight comments about him becoming angry but by the sounds of it this was one of the things that the television show down played severely. In fact, it seems that in May of 2001 (although it could have been 2000) that the police were called to the Day home, not because of issues with the neighbor children but apparently once for undisclosed “domestic issue” and later for a suicide attempt. It was then that it seems Richard had attempted to overdose on insulin and was placed in the hospital. It was then that he was apparently diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and placed on medication. According to family members and doctors however, not only was Richard in denial of his diagnoses but often refused to continue taking the medication that was prescribed. At his trial in 2003 Richard's brother would state that Richard had suffered with “anger issues” for quite some time and that resisted any help in that area. What this information tells me is that Richard was as the judge in his case described him …. “a ticking time bomb.” Now, this does not mean that I believe Richard was a bad person in any way, nor does it mean that I believe if the neighborhood children were also “taunting” Richard that his mental issues gave any of them a pass. However, it does indicate how the actions of neighborhood children could seemingly so easily push him over the edge. Of course no one would be happy that their child was being taunted or that things went as far as not just the robbery but later unintentional murder but knowing all of the information gives us a better picture and a better understanding.
On the night of October 31, 2001 it appears that the Day's came home to find that someone had “egged” their home about 10:00. This seems to have been the last straw for Richard Day. It was said that he went into the home, grabbed a carton of eggs and headed back out the door. His wife, Adele got the keys from him but Richard got the spare set. According to the newspaper articles Walter got into the truck with him in attempts to get him to calm down and not leave but Richard left, with Walter in the car anyway. His first stop was at another home of a neighborhood child that Richard believed to be involved in the egging of his home. Once there Richard egged the home and was confronted by a friend of the teenage boy that lived there. The friend apparently hit Richard, causing him to fall and break his glasses. From there Richard, with Walter in tow, headed to the Rosser home where he began egging the house and a vehicle in the driveway. Robert Campbell, Fred Rosser and Connie's oldest son, who was sixteen, went outside and confronted Richard. What exactly transpired is a bit hazy. It does appear that as Richard attempted to drive away that Robert Campbell ran out in front of the truck. According to Richard he backed up to go around Campbell but apparently in the midst of things Campbell was hit and caught under the front right tire of the truck and dragged about 190 feet, or about six houses away.
After this Richard headed to a third house where yet more neighborhood children lived and once again egged that house. Richard then returned to the area of the Rosser home. He would claim that he went there to check on Campbell, saw everyone in the street and headed back to his home where he would call his brother. Richard would never say that he intentionally hit Campbell, or even that he realized that he had before returning to the scene but did admit to his brother it looked as if Campbell was severely injured, if not dead. Campbell would die at the hospital some two hours later from internal injuries. It was reported by the newspaper that witnesses at the scene, although who they were was not clear, would state that when Richard went back to the scene he would yell that Campbell “got what he deserved” and then drove away.
Within just a few hours of the incident the police would arrest Richard at his home. He would go on trial in April of 2003 on charges of second degree murder. The trial would only last three days and apparently the defense only called one witness, an accident reconstruction expert who would state that the truck showed no damage indicating that the wet road conditions caused Campbell to slip and fall under the vehicle. To some this would seem a small issue and cause them to ask why it matters. For the defense it was very important. The defense would also argue that since Richard had broken his glasses in the argument at the previous house that his vision was not very good and prevented him from seeing Campbell clearly. The prosecutors in the case would argue that Richard hit Campbell intentionally. If the defense expert was correct then first the jury could look more seriously at the charge of manslaughter as opposed to murder, and secondly they could not just come to believe it was not intentional but that there were other factors involved aside from Richard's anger and rage. It took the jury just over two hours to find Richard guilty of 2nd degree murder and I have to say that I agree just based on what I know of the case. Let me be clear in the fact that I do not believe Richard left him home with any intention of killing anyone. I also do not believe that when Richard did hit Robert Campbell with is truck that was premeditated or even intentional then. I do believe Richard when he says he backed up to go around him, or that he truly believed he did if he did not (to be fair I heard nothing to contradict him in that). I also believe that his lack of glasses could have thrown off his perception. I believe he was in a rage; I believe Campbell did run out in front of the truck and I believe that Richard attempted to go around him and believed that he did. Did Campbell slip on the wet pavement as he was trying to also get out of Richard's way? That is entirely possible. Did Richard drag Campbell the 190 feet and not realize it when he did? That is possible too. I am not saying that I do not think that there were not signs that he hit, drug, or ran over something, or in this case someone, I just simply think the adrenaline was running high and it quite possibly did not sink into him as to what it was that was going on. That being said, I also believe that he returned to the scene after going to the third house to “check” on Campbell as he claimed either because at this point he's coming “down” from the rage and adrenaline high and now wonders if something happened or it is possible Walter told him something seemed off and they should go check. If at that point Richard would have gotten out of his vehicle, stayed at the scene and showed some concern for Campbell and for his actions I think things could have been different for Richard. I cannot say that I know for certain what he may or may not have said at the scene when he returned, but the fact that he left the scene again and went to his own home did not bode well for him.
The next surprising issue came when the judge sentenced him. Richard was looking at a minimum sentence of twenty years and I would gander to guess that most of those close to him, including his lawyers, suspected that he would get close to that sentence. His attorney's and family attempted to sway the judge from going outside the guidelines or rules and giving him much less time, or even send him home. The judge not only did not comply with that, he sentenced Richard to life in prison.
Richard did not serve out a life sentence. It was reported on the television show that he died while serving his time but they were unclear as to the complete cause, and to be fair I am unsure I would believe the cause even if they said. With that being said I could find nothing that told me when or exactly how Richard would eventually die. What I did find was a lot of talk of the Rosser family, especially after many had seen the television show. The television show portrayed the Rosser children as very undisciplined to say the least. There was one police officer on the show that did indicate that they had issues with the teenagers within the neighborhood and there were comments to some things I found that indicated that all four of the boys have had issues with the law and spent time in prison for one thing or another. One of the boys was interviewed for the show and while I do not want anyone to think that I have an issue with tattoos or those who have them (I have a few of my own) there were comments that at least one of them had gang affiliated tattoos which does not exactly indicate that they grew up to be upstanding citizens. That being said, while there was so much spewing of hate on the Rosser boys and on Connie Rosser and the raising of her children, little responsibility seemed to be laid at Richard Day's feet. In truth I do believe that this has a lot to do with how the television show portrayed Richard. Again, I am not saying he was a bad guy, but he obviously had his own issues and there seems to be enough blame to go around and should not all be laid at the Rosser family home. In fact, considering that Richard Day went to three homes on the night of the incident this accident could have happened at one of the two other homes and the victim could have been someone else and not Robert Campbell.
I think as a society of people we have decided that we have to take one side or another in every situation even when not all of the facts are in. We seem to have forgotten that in almost every situation there are two sides to things and sometimes the truth is on neither but somewhere in the middle. When you pick one side or another odds are that you are wrong in some aspects.