WALTERBORO, SC (Oct. 10, 2022) – A Summerville man received three life sentences Monday after pleading guilty to crimes in two Lowcountry counties, including last month’s murder of a Cottageville man.
Richard Brian Campodonico, 42, pleaded guilty in connection to the shooting death of 39-year-old Michael Staton during proceedings Monday at the Colleton County Courthouse. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, armed robbery and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime in relation to the same crime.
When he killed Staton, Campodonico was free on bond after his arrest for a first-degree burglary charge in Charleston County. He also pleaded guilty to that crime Monday.
“I’m thankful to God that the defendant took responsibility for his actions and spared the victims in these cases the trauma and stress of years of litigation and a trial,” said Tameaka A. Legette of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. She prosecuted the Colleton charges and represented the state Monday on behalf of the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which prosecuted the Charleston charge.
Campodonico received two life-without-parole sentences for the Colleton murder and burglary, as well as 30 years for armed robbery and five years for the gun charge. He also received life without parole for the Charleston burglary.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen handed down the sentences.
Staton’s neighbor called 9-1-1 to report a burglary in progress shortly after 10 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2022, after he was alerted by a trail camera that someone was attempting to break into his shed on Rhode Drive. Campodonico ran through the woods toward Staton’s house, where Staton’s wife was on the back porch smoking a cigarette. Campodonico demanded that he give her the keys to a family car. Staton’s wife went inside and shut the door behind her, but Campodonico forced his way inside the home.
Staton has been sleeping on a couch but was awakened by the commotion. He then wrestled with Campodonico, who was armed with a small silver gun. Campodonico shot Staton in the chest during the struggle, then snatched a set of car keys from a counter and fled out the back door. He returned moments later after realizing the keys did not belong to the vehicle parked outside. Staton’s wife gave him the keys to the family’s Honda Accord, and Campodonico drove away.
Staton was pronounced dead at the scene. His 12-year-old daughter was also in the home when her father was killed.
Caompodonico later burned the vehicle and the gun he used to kill Staton.
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Colleton County Sheriff’s Office investigators identified Campodonico from photographs taken by the neighbor’s trail camera. He was arrested in Georgia the next day.
Campodonico admitted he had been smoking methamphetamine the day of the murder. His criminal history includes a 1999 conviction for possession of a stolen vehicle and 2002 convictions for armed robbery and second-degree burglary, for which he received a 20-year sentence.
Legette is a member of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Career Criminal Unit, which prosecutes the circuit’s most violent and habitual offenders. The team has secured convictions against 422 of the 455 defendants it has prosecuted since its formation in late 2009. The team also has earned 47 life sentences.