A Jupiter Farms man found murdered in front of his home in October was killed after he was shot in the chest and abdomen, according to a search warrant.
David Middleton, a 63-year-old businessman, was found face down in his front yard Oct. 17 at his residence on 179th Court North by a UPS driver.
Authorities are focusing their investigation on Ronell Antoine Campbell, a 33-year-old Miami man with a long criminal history whose vehicle was seen near Middleton’s home by several neighbors, according to the search warrant.
Law-enforcement authorities, including the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, carried out the warrant Oct. 18 at a Miami Gardens home where Campbell lives with his girlfriend.
Campbell ran out a back door holding a black handgun when police arrived, but was quickly apprehended after jumping into a canal. Officers did not find the gun Campbell carried during his escape attempt, but did locate a “fully-loaded 9mm caliber pistol magazine” for the gun, the warrant states.
A projectile recovered from Middleton’s body “is consistent in size with that of a 9mm caliber bullet,” according to an autopsy report performed by the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner. No spent shell casings were found at the murder scene.
Campbell was arrested on a weapons charge and is scheduled to appear in a Miami-Dade County courtroom Friday. He has not been charged in Middleton’s murder.
The connection between Campbell and Middleton was supplied by three of the victim’s neighbors, who spotted Campbell’s 2013 Silver Mercedes parked facing Middleton’s home on the morning of the shooting.
One neighbor told PBSO detectives that he walked within a few feet of the Mercedes, which was running, as he checked his mail. The neighbor alertly jotted down the Mercedes’ license-plate number but was unable to see inside because of the car’s darkly tinted windows.
Another neighbor of Middleton’s said she heard four gunshots at about 10:10 a.m., and saw a silver Mercedes driving away from the victim’s home. Middleton’s wife told detectives that her husband walked out of their residence about 10 a.m. to walk his two dogs, the warrant said.
More than five hours after the shooting, Campbell walked into the Miami Gardens Police Department to report that his license plate had been stolen the day before the shooting.
“However the description of the car witnessed at the homicide scene is identical to that of the car owned by Mr. Campbell, and registered to him … ,” according to the search warrant.
Campbell’s criminal history includes convictions for battery, false imprisonment and selling cocaine. He was first charged as an adult at age 15 for stealing a vehicle and resisting arrest, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.
Among his 23 arrests since 1998 was a 2008 arrest on weapons charges after he was involved in a gun battle over a $5 bag of marijuana that left a 2-year-old boy paralyzed. The state attorney’s office later chose not to pursue the case against Campbell, records show.
Why Campbell’s vehicle was seen in front of Middleton’s house Oct. 17 remains a mystery. Police and public records “show no connection between Campbell and the Jupiter Florida area,” according to the warrant.
Campbell, whose occupation is listed as “barber” in the FDLE report, is facing charges of possession of a weapon or ammunition by a felon, carrying a prohibited weapon, resisting arrest without violence and tampering with evidence.
The warrant states that authorities were looking for evidence of a first-degree murder when they went to Campbell’s home.
Post researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.