On March 6, 2023, the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office reported a “No True Bill” to Schenectady County Court indicating a grand jury had considered the charges pending against Gabriella Beckwith concerning the July 18, 2022, death of Beyquan Campbell. As a result of the Grand Jury’s “No True Bill”, all charges pending against Ms. Beckwith concerning Mr. Campbell’s death must be dismissed.
Ms. Beckwith was arrested on July 18, 2022, and charged with Manslaughter in the First Degree, a class B violent felony, Assault in the First Degree, a class B violent felony, Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class E felony, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a class A Misdemeanor, and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, all class A misdemeanors. Ms. Beckwith was originally held on bail pending trial, but on July 22, 2022, upon the recommendation of the District Attorney’s Office, she was released to the supervision of the Schenectady Probation Department with a GPS location monitor. The decision to release Ms. Beckwith from custody came after the interview of a child witness conducted at the Schenectady Child Advocacy Center by forensic interviewer Yoni Moskow that took place after the police department had made the arrest, but was available to the District Attorney’s Office while they began their case review.
Prior to being arrested, Ms. Beckwith asserted a claim that she stabbed Mr. Campbell in the leg, causing his death, pursuant to a belief that it was necessary in defense of herself and her children. Following her arrest, Ms. Beckwith was cooperative with the District Attorney’s investigation. The District Attorney’s Office presented evidence concerning the events and circumstances leading up to and including Mr. Campbell’s death to the Grand Jury.
Persons may not use deadly physical force against another unless they reasonably believe that such person is using or is about to use deadly physical force. Generally, such persons may only use deadly physical force if they are unable to retreat with complete safety. However, under New York Law, it is never necessary for a person to retreat from their own home when they are not the person to initially use or threaten deadly physical force.
In any case where a justification defense is raised, the burden is upon the District Attorney to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt. The Grand Jury’s “No True Bill” reflects its determination that the evidence presented did not establish reasonable cause to believe Ms. Beckwith was not acting in self-defense at the time she was alleged to have killed Mr. Campbell. In support of her claim of self-defense, Ms. Beckwith made the following claims, which the District Attorney’s Office’s investigation was able to corroborate:
- Prior to the stabbing Ms. Beckwith’s relationship with Mr. Campbell had been volatile and violent, and there had been several past occasions where Mr. Campbell had caused demonstrable injuries to Ms. Beckwith; a claim which was corroborated by photographs and eyewitnesses.
- On the day of the stabbing, Ms. Beckwith did not have access to a telephone because Mr. Campbell had destroyed her cellphone the prior day; a claim which was corroborated by eyewitnesses and physical evidence.
- At the time of the stabbing, Ms. Beckwith was in her own home with Mr. Campbell, and her three young children; a claim corroborated by eyewitnesses and other evidence.
- Prior to the stabbing, Mr. Campbell threatened Ms. Beckwith with a handgun and struck her in the head with that gun while she was holding her infant child; a claim which was corroborated by the discovery of a loaded, privately assembled, semi-automatic pistol with no serial number (commonly referred to as a “ghost gun”) in the home.
- Believing that she was in a life or death situation, Ms. Beckwith retrieved a knife from her kitchen and stabbed him once in the thigh, severing his femoral artery which caused him to bleed to death.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert M. Carney stated as follows: “Upon our review of the evidence in this case, we believed that Ms. Beckwith’s claim she was justified in using deadly physical force to defend herself and her children had merit and that she should not be incarcerated while awaiting grand jury action. After hearing from all of the witnesses, the Grand Jury independently arrived at that conclusion. It is also clear from the facts that her intent was not to kill him, but to protect herself and ward him off. Unfortunately for him, the one stab wound she inflicted on him in his leg proved to be lethal because of arterial bleeding.”
DA Carney further stated, “If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence do not wait until it becomes a life threating situation. Contact the YWCA of NorthEasternNY at 518-374-3394, their 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 518-374-3386, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or similar organizations to learn more about the resources available to you.”
The District Attorney’s Office’s investigation was led by Assistant District Attorney Michael Nobles. Ms. Beckwith was represented by attorney Daniel Smalls.