Two Waterloo murder convictions upheld - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Two Waterloo murder convictions upheld

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Two Waterloo murder convictions have been upheld on the same day. The Iowa Court of Appeals made the two rulings Wednesday, on two separate Waterloo cases.

The first decision upheld the first-degree murder conviction of James Ernst II, in the death of Orintheo Campbell, Jr., 23.  Campbell was shot and killed in December of 2014 at the Prime Mart on Broadway in Waterloo.

When KWWL spoke to Campbell's sister days after the murder, she said Campbell was shot because he was trying to break up a fight between two girls.  That is when Ernst pulled a gun.

"My brother wasn't a bad person. They just took him for no reason. They just took him," said Campbell's sister, Shaunte, in 2014.

During his trial, Ernst said he shot Campbell because Campbell had punched him and was reaching for his waistband for what Ernst thought was a gun.

But authorities say Campbell was unarmed.

"They just took away somebody that wasn't a bad person. My brother, he was the greatest person, I don't understand," said Shaunte in 2014.

Following the 2016 murder conviction, Ernst brought his case to the Iowa Court of Appeals, saying he acted in self-defense.  But Wednesday, the Court of Appeals agreed with the jury and upheld the first-degree murder conviction.

The court also upheld another Waterloo conviction in the murder of a Minnesota man who was shot outside of El Senor Tequila Nightclub.

Rodolfo Gonzalez-Pena was convicted of the 2014 murder and also asked the Iowa Court of Appeals to overturn his life-sentence, claiming the evidence did not support the conviction.

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