Accused killer ruled incompetent

Photos by Ron LeirCarlos Campos confers with his attorney Joseph Russo.
Photos by Ron Leir
Carlos Campos confers with his attorney Joseph Russo.



By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


The Harrison man accused of fatally stabbing his parents and 3-year-old niece in their Hamilton St. home nearly a year and a half ago won’t stand trial for his alleged crimes.

Not now, at least.

Hudson County Superior Court Judge John A. Young Jr., sitting in Jersey City, ruled last Wednesday that Carlos P. Campos, 23, isn’t mentally competent to participate in his defense.

Testimony offered by a state psychologist last Tuesday indicated that prior to the killings, Campos believed that he was being followed, bugged and that his life was being edited and played on the internet as a “reality TV show.”

Young directed that Campos be sent to the Anne Klein Forensic Center, a state psychiatric hospital, for 90 days of treatment, to allow mental health professionals to determine whether he can be restored to competency for trial.

Until then, Campos will remain at the Hudson County Jail in Kearny on $3 million cash only bail.

The judge’s order is subject to approval by the state Commissioner of Human Services and, if approved, scheduling that stay with the hospital, according to attorneys for the state and Campos. After Klein experts report back to the court, the next step will, again, be up to the judge.

Campos’ lawyer, Hudson County Deputy Public Defender Joseph Russo said he was satisfied with the judge’s ruling, adding that his client “has a very severe mental illness. He belongs in a mental institution, not a prison.”

On the bench, Young noted that both Dr. Kenneth J. Weiss, a psychiatrist retained by the defense, and Dr. Peter Paul, a forensic psychologist on staff at Ann Klein, concurred that Campos – because of his delusional beliefs and because he was incapable of rationally communicating with his defense counsel – was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Additionally, as noted by Russo in motion papers filed with the court last May, a Jersey City Medical Center psychiatrist who evaluated Campos two days after his arrest to be mentally ill and dangerous to others.



“And the state has produced no evidence to contradict that,” the judge added.

Young also concluded that Campos continued to be potentially “dangerous to others.”

Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Salvatore Rozzi had no comment on the judge’s ruling.

In his court testimony last Tuesday, Dr. Paul said that Campos exhibited psychotic symptoms “well before the defendant was arrested,” beginning in December 2010 when he “became afraid and distrusting of people.”

By January 2011, Paul said, Campos “believed he was being wiretapped, [that] someone was following him and trying to kill him … [that] he was on a reality TV show … [that] he was being watched 24/7. He was afraid to leave the house. … He didn’t trust family members.”

Paul said he concluded that Campos “wasn’t malingering” when talking about his delusional beliefs during the interviews he conducted with him.

Photo by Ron LeirJudge John Young Jr. watches witness Dr. Peter Paul sworn in.
Photo by Ron Leir
Judge John Young Jr. watches witness Dr. Peter Paul sworn in.


Campos is charged with killing his father, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad Sr., 56; his mother, Ruth L. Pereira, 58; and his niece, Gabriella Morales, 3, in the Hamilton St. house they shared on Aug. 16, 2011.

Campos walked into Harrison Police headquarters later that day with blood on him and was subsequently arrested after police found the lifeless bodies in the Hamilton St. residence. A kitchen knife recovered from the scene was identified by police as the likely murder weapon.

Campos was indicted last year on three counts of murder, three counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and three counts of possession of a weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate.

Learn more about the writer ...