Prosecutors drop murder case, Fort Campbell ex-soldier freed after 20 years in prison

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A former Fort Campbell soldier once convicted of taking part in killing four people has been freed from prison after prosecutors dropped the case against him 20 years after the crime.

The release of 40-year-old David Gene Housler Jr. of Radcliff, Kentucky, closes a chapter of one of the most notorious killings in Clarksville history.

Housler and Courtney Matthews were convicted of killing 22-year-old Kevin Campbell and Angela Wyatt, 39-year-old Patricia Price and 24-year-old Marcia Klopp during a robbery of a Taco Bell on Jan. 30, 1994.

A Tennessee court overturned Housler's conviction in 2010 as he served a life sentence.

The Leaf-Chronicle reported earlier this week that Housler pleaded guilty to an unrelated robbery and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, which he has already served.

Over the years, Housler and his attorneys filed appeals asserting numerous claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and issues with an agreement Housler made with the District Attorney's Office in October 1995. Housler gave law enforcement statements about the murders that he later asserted were lies. How the statements were obtained and used at trial were questioned in appeals.

He was granted a new trial in 2010. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Housler's defense attorneys failed to challenge several aspects of a plea agreement that collapsed and testimony against Housler. The judgment concluded Housler had shoddy representation and his defense attorney acted recklessly.

Housler had his murder conviction overturned by the Criminal Court of Appeals in 2013 and sent back to the circuit court for prosecution. Statements he previously made were not admissible in a new trial.

District Attorney Pro Tem Joseph D. Baugh dismissed the murder case on Tuesday.

"This is a decision which has been made only after countless hours of review of the original case, the evidence introduced, re-interviews of witnesses and court personnel by the City of Clarksville Police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation," Baugh said.

Lethia Van Luven, the sister of murder victim Marsha Klopp, said there is no closure and she and her family said Housler was getting away with murder.

"The victims don't have a voice," Van Luven said. "My sister is dead and Housler helped take away her life. He silenced her so one of us has to be here to speak for her ... what has happened here today is not justice."

Paul Hemmersbaugh, one of Housler's defense attorneys, said this crime happened 20 years ago when Housler was 19 and he hopes a freed Housler can begin his life.

"We really hope he puts this behind him, it's settled and he can get along with his life," Hemmersbaugh said.