James Campbell pleaded not guilty to a charge of Arson as a Class A felony in an initial hearing in Starke Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon.
Campbell is accused of intentionally setting a fire on March 20 at his business known as Starke County Recycling at the corner of U.S. 35 and Toto Road south of Knox. A Bass Lake fireman was injured while battling the blaze at the business. Eight fire departments were called to the scene to contain the fire.
Campbell questioned Judge Hall about his $2 million surety bond and requested a bond reduction in order to get out of jail and contact his attorney(s) to help him in this case. Judge Hall explained that he has been charged with Arson which can be deadly and he is a threat to endanger the community.
Starke County Sheriff’s Department detective Kenny Pfost also testified that Campbell is a flight risk. Pfost said that Campbell has homes in several states and had a passport in his possession at the time of his arrest. Campbell replied that he carries his passport with him at all times as another source of identification along with his Driver’s License. He told the judge that he hadn’t been out of the country for a while and this was the only passport he has. Campbell told the judge that he has a friend in Belize, South America but hasn’t been there to visit him in some time.
Judge Hall ordered that his bond remain at $2 million surety.
Campbell’s attorney status date is set for April 16. Campbell told Judge Kim Hall that he has two attorneys on retainer but phone calls to those attorneys have not been returned. Judge Hall said if he does get a hold of an attorney by April 16 he will not need to appear for that hearing. Campbell’s first pre-trial conference hearing is set for May 14 at 8 a.m. and the second pre-trial conference date is June 12 which is also the deadline date for a plea agreement.