The Tragic 2015 Murder Of Former US Marine Craig Wingard Explained

On April 14 of 2018, A&E aired an episode of its popular true crime series "The First 48" which chronicled a homicide that took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma the year prior. According to Tulsa World, 33-year-old Craig Wingard was shot multiple time on July 5, 2015, outside of an apartment unit in East Woodrow (a local housing complex in the greater Tulsa area). Wingard was a former U.S. Marine who was reportedly attempting to restore an allegedly stolen item from the unit's occupants when things took a fatal turn for the worst. He was shot five times before the suspects ran off, leaving him bleeding in the parking lot (via Fox News 23).

The former marine approached the residence while a female friend of his waited for him in the car. After he was gunned down, she contacted police immediately in an effort to salvage his life. He was rushed to a local hospital, but he tragically died three days later, as Fox News 23 reports. 

A teenager was accused of killing Wingard

Fox News 23 reported shortly after the incident that police believed a 17-year-old named William Dean Campbell killed Craig Wingard. Campbell and his girlfriend Sarah Helton became the prime suspects in the assault that took Craig Wingard's life that day. The former was wanted on charges of first-degree murder while Helton was facing looming charges of being an accessory to the killing. 

Police and investigators determined that the confrontation arose on behalf of a stolen set of car keys that Wingard intended to approach Campbell about. According to Fox News 23, Campbell was not home when Wingard arrived at his Tulsa apartment. When he turned to leave, both Campbell and Helton arrived in a vehicle. An argument ensued, according to the Associated Press, then eight or nine shots were fired from a .22-caliber rifle from the driver's side window — several of which struck Wingard — before the duo skidded off in their car. When police questioned Campbell, he said he didn't intend to kill Wingard.

William Campbell is arrested and charged

When William Campbell and Sarah Helton were arrested, they were brought in for questioning about the death of Craig Wingard. In a taped interview, Campbell reportedly admitted to firing the gun out his car window. However, he claimed that his intention was to intimidate Wingard and scare him off the premises. Sadly, the shots met their (allegedly) unintended target and resulted in his death days later, as Fox News 23 reports. 

Given the extreme nature of his actions and the carelessness with which he executed them, it was likely that he should receive life in prison with no chance of parole. Campbell also admitted to shooting Craig Wingard on tape, so the prosecution was as well equipped as they could be to deliver a guilty verdict. However, his age posed complications that delayed the trial for nearly two years. The shooting took place in July of 2015, but William Campbell's court proceedings didn't commence until May of 2017 (per Fox News 23). 

Campbell was sentenced to life in prison

Given that William Campbell was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, there was conflict amongst the legal teams as to whether or not he should be tried as an adult, as Fox News 23 reports. Following the decision, Oklahoma officials agreed that William Campbell in turn should be tried as an adult. The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that he should serve a life sentence behind bars for the murder of Craig Wingard in the first degree, along with five years for pointing the gun at Wingard's girlfriend. Per Tulsa World, in Oklahoma, a life conviction means a person must serve 45 years. Campbell was 20 years old by the time he was finally convicted, per News on 6. 

Craig Wingard's obituary says he served in the Marines for 6 years, and growing up he was into outdoor pastimes like fishing and hunting, then later he became passionate about BMX and downhill riding. He left behind a slew of family and friends. A woman on Facebook posted about how her husband served in the Marines with Wingard (pictured) for a time, saying, "We could always count on him for anything — including meeting us at Mai Tai or Mongolian House in Jacksonville. lol. He is missed." Another commenter wrote, "He was one of my best friends growing up. Truly a great guy with a big heart. Sad he was taken so early in life. Rest in peace brother."