‘I’m innocent’: Man accused of killing 7-year-old girl testifies, says he lied to investigators because of police pressure

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Jury trial continued for the man charged in the murder of seven-year-old Chrisyah Stephens of South Bend Monday.

Jaheim Campbell, 19, faces murder but in an unexpected move, Campbell was called to the witness stand, testifying for the first time since Chrisyah was killed.

His testimony comes four days shy of the day Chrysiah was shot and killed outside at friend’s birthday party just one year ago.

Campbell told the court he lied during his interview with police about his involvement in the shooting.

When asked why, Campbell says he was pressured by police.

“I started lying to them after I repeatedly told them I did not commit this crime. I started telling them what they wanted to hear because they pressured me,” Campbell told prosecutors. “They didn’t believe me in the first hour when I told them the truth. So I got to telling them what they wanted to hear,” Campbell said.

Campbell then went on to tell the prosecutor, ”I’m innocent. I’m innocent until proven guilty.”

In court, hearing it all unfold, was Chrisyah’s family including her mother, Shanette Smiley, who had this to say.

“I have no words. I’m speechless. My baby was an innocent seven-year-old who was running around at a birthday party. She has nothing to do with what is going on in there. I don’t even know what is going on in there. I don’t know these people or anything,” Smiley said.

Also in court was Campbell’s mother, who did not want to speak on camera. Accompanying her was Campbell’s aunt Carolyn tony and his Aunt Carolyn Tony who says her nephew is innocent.

“We mourn for that family, that’s somebody’s baby. We don’t never want to have my family involved that has to do with anything bad, especially a child,” Tony told 16 News Now.

She continued by saying, “I believe just what he said is that he didn’t do it. He was not there and I believe he will be vindicated.”

“Jaheim has always told us from day one that he had nothing to do with this, but the only reason why he told the lies that he told is because police forced him to -- the detectives rather. He told them whatever they wanted to hear because he thought they were trying to take his life away from him,” Tony said.

Jury trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning. A verdict is expected to be announced at some point. We will be there with the latest on this story as it develops right here on 16 News Now.

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