A pair of ex-convicts accused of shooting down a kidnapped Los Angeles Detective in a Kern County field were pointing accusing fingers at each other following their arrest.
Jimmy Lee Smith, 32 of Los Angeles, arrested in a rooming house in Bakersfield following a swift and efficient dragnet operation by officers. Hours earlier, CHP officers took into custody on US Highway 99, 16 miles south of Bakersfield Gregory Powell, 30, of Boulder City, Nevada.
The chilling story retold by the obviously shocked Los Angeles Police Officer Karl Hettinger, began in Hollywood when he and Campbell, a Korean veteran, stopped a suspicious car at Gower Street and Carlos Avenue. Campbell walked to the car when one man jumped from the car, pointed a .32 caliber revolver at him and shouted to Hettinger to surrender. “I could have shot the other guy,” said Hettinger, “but Campbell would have been shot.”
Powell said Smith held the gun on Campbell and Hettinger, and ordered him to get into the unmarked police car and follow him, but Powell said, he wasn’t able to release the emergency brake. Instead, Hettinger continued, the four, the two officers and the two ex-convicts, got into the suspects car and drove from Los Angeles to Kern County. On the way, the detective recalled, the two men discussed releasing the officers at Gorman, but changed their minds.
The car finally left the highway and traveled along a dirt road for more than three miles, Hettinger said, when the car was stopped approximately 25 miles south of Bakersfield, a mile and a quarter south of the Clifford Mettler Ranch.
Both men were ordered out of the car, Powell stood with his gun trained on Campbell and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Little Lindberg Law?” Campbell, his hands held over his head, answered “Yes.” Powell fired at that instant, he said, hitting Campbell in the mouth. At the same time, Hettinger said, the moon was obscured by clouds. Hettinger turned and fled. As he did, the shocked officer said, he saw the other man Smith pumping bullets into Campbell’s falling body.
Hettinger said he and Campbell originally stopped the suspects’ car because it answered the description of one involved in several armed robberies.
Ian Campbell left behind a wife and two pre-school age daughters.
Follow up report: On July 5, 2005 Jimmy Lee Smith, who previously was convicted for Officer Campbell’s murder and paroled, was sent back to prison for three years for violation of his parole. He was found guilty in a possession charge.