Home Crime Man convicted in Hamlet murder set for parole, co-defendant being considered

Man convicted in Hamlet murder set for parole, co-defendant being considered

Anthony Campbell, left, and Donquell Speller were convicted of the 1993 murder of a Hamlet pawn shop owner. Campbell will be paroled next month and an investigation into Speller's parole is underway. Photos by NCDPS

HAMLET — One of three men convicted in the robbery and death of a pawn shop is set to be paroled nearly 30 years after the incident — and another is under consideration.

The N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced Friday afternoon that 47-year-old Anthony Campbell will be paroled on April 2.

The commission also said that an investigation is underway for the parole of 54-year-old Donquell Speller.

Campbell and Speller, along with James Anthony Poe, were convicted in 1995, two years after the death of 28-year-old Larry Brown, owner of Sandhill Pawn and Jewelry in Hamlet, according to court documents.

Poe testified in court that he, Campbell and Speller went to the pawn shop on April 5, 1993 with the intention to rob the business.

According to Poe, Speller put a gun to Brown’s head, but Brown grabbed the gun and the two struggled. Poe said that Campbell punched Brown and pushed him to the floor and Speller shot Brown in the stomach.

Speller testified on his own behalf that he had gone into the store to pawn a stolen gun and that Brown had mistaken his intentions and thought he was being robbed and that the gun “accidentally” discharged.

As the three suspects ran back to their car to leave the scene, Brown managed to fire a shot into the windshield and wound Speller, according to court documents. Speller, who was driving, returned fire while driving off.

Brown, according to court records, was taken to Hamlet Hospital where he later died.

Speller drove to a hospital in Cheraw, South Carolina, and was brought back to the Hamlet Police Department for questioning, while he was still bleeding, records show.

At the time of the incident, Speller was 25, Campbell was 17 and Poe was 15.

While awaiting trial, records show that Speller attacked another inmate and had been accused of bullying other detainees in the Richmond County Jail.

Speller wrote a letter to a judge on Jan. 21, 1995 asking for a speedy trial and said that he had “steadfastly denied the lies the D.A. brung against me.”


Records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction show Speller was convicted on May 31, 1995 of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Campbell and Poe both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on July 27, 1995. Campbell also pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and Poe pleaded guilty to armed robbery, records show.

Speller and Campbell were both sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years; Poe was sentenced to 40 years.

DPS records show Poe was released from prison on Oct. 1, 2009. In 2013, he was convicted in Durham County on misdemeanor charges of fleeing to elude arrest, driving with a revoked license and possession of stolen goods and given probation.

According to DPS records, Speller has had two infractions while in custody: disobeying an order; and misuse or unauthorized use of phone or mail. Both were in 2001.

Campbell has had 35 infractions, including several counts of threatening to harm or injure staff and disobeying orders as well as lock tampering, fighting and a sexual act.

Campbell is currently being held at Gaston Correctional Center and Speller is at Orange Correctional Center.

According to the commission, Campbell was approved for parole via the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, “a scholastic and vocational program that is a three-way agreement between the Commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender.”

In reference to the possibility of Speller’s parole, the commission states: “Information gathered during the investigation from persons for and against parole of the individual, as well as the facts of the case, will be considered by the Commission in making its decision. Upon completion of the investigation, the Commission will render their final decision and you will be notified within ten days of that decision. The Commission is required to review all offenders eligible for parole on an annual basis.”

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.