Guilty ver­dict in Venice crash

Driver ac­cused of plow­ing into a board­walk crowd is con­victed of mur­der and other charges.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Stephen Ceasar stephen.ceasar@la­ Twit­ter: @sjceasar

Man ac­cused of plow­ing into board­walk crowd is con­victed of mur­der.

A Los An­ge­les jury on Fri­day con­victed a man of de­lib­er­ately driv­ing his car into pedes­tri­ans on the Venice board­walk, killing an Ital­ian new­ly­wed and in­jur­ing 17 oth­ers.

Nathan Louis Camp­bell was found guilty of sec­ond­de­gree mur­der in the death of Alice Grup­pi­oni, an Ital­ian tourist vis­it­ing Cal­i­for­nia with her hus­band on their hon­ey­moon. Camp­bell also was found guilty on sev­eral counts of as­sault with a deadly weapon and hit-an­drun charges.

He now faces a pos­si­ble sen­tence of life in pri­son.

Pros­e­cu­tors ini­tially sought a con­vic­tion of first­de­gree mur­der but re­moved the al­le­ga­tion dur­ing jury de­lib­er­a­tions, Deputy Dist. Atty. Vic­tor Avila said.

“We’re very sat­is­fied with the ver­dict and that he was held accountable on all counts — es­pe­cially the mur­der of Alice Grup­pi­oni,” Avila said.

De­fense at­tor­ney James Cooper said the ver­dict was as good an out­come as Camp­bell could have ex­pected.

“It was an un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent and he wishes he could turn back the clock,” he said. “He will live with the con­se­quences now — that’s what he has told me.”

Dur­ing closing ar­gu­ments, Avila urged ju­rors to con­vict Camp­bell of mur­der and other charges, de­scrib­ing him as frus­trated, an­gry and in­tent on in­flict­ing pain on oth­ers in the Aug. 3, 2013, in­ci­dent.

Up­set af­ter a botched ef­fort to buy drugs, Camp­bell got into his Dodge Avenger and de­cided to jump a curb, ma­neu­ver past bar­ri­ers meant to block ve­hi­cle ac­cess and plow through the packed board­walk, the pros­e­cu­tor ar­gued.

Avila re­minded ju­rors of the tes­ti­mony of a home­less man, who said Camp­bell had told him that he wanted to run down a drug dealer who ripped off his friend.

“Point them out; I’m go­ing to run them over,” Camp­bell told the man, Avila said.

But Cooper told ju­rors that Camp­bell did not plan to kill any­one and was not act­ing de­lib­er­ately.

“Yes, my client did cause this tragic, non­sen­si­cal event,” Cooper said. “Mr. Camp­bell is a killer. How­ever, un­in­ten­tional killings are not mur­der.”

Cooper told the jury that the pros­e­cu­tion failed to prove that Camp­bell set out to kill and re­lied heav­ily on the un­re­li­able tes­ti­mony of the home­less man.

Grup­pi­oni, 32, was among those struck by Camp­bell’s car.

The pros­e­cu­tor told ju­rors that Grup­pi­oni’s body was on the hood of Camp­bell’s car for 300 feet be­fore slid­ing off. He showed the jury a pho­to­graph of her life­less body sprawled on the con­crete mo­ments af­ter the crash.

In a state­ment re­leased by their at­tor­ney, the Grup­pi­oni fam­ily thanked the jury for hold­ing Camp­bell re­spon­si­ble for her death.

“We deeply miss Alice and our hearts will al­ways be with our beau­ti­ful wife and daugh­ter,” the state­ment said.

The fam­ily filed a law­suit last year against the city and county, al­leg­ing that of­fi­cials failed to pro­vide ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion for pedes­tri­ans on the busy walk­way.

Ir­fan Khan Los An­ge­les Times

NATHAN LOUIS Camp­bell faces a pos­si­ble life sen­tence in pri­son in the 2013 Venice board­walk crash, which killed one per­son.

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

A ME­MO­RIAL in­cludes a photo of Alice Grup­pi­oni, who was on her hon­ey­moon when she was killed.

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