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Driver facing life for resort hit-and-run

2015-06-08 10:22

CONVICTED: Nathan Louis Campbell, 39, was convicted Friday June 5 2015, for the August 2013 death of Alice Gruppioni after a hit-and-run on the Venice boardwalk in California. Image: AP/Nick Ut

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A 38-year-old man was charged with murder after allegedly slamming his car into tourists on California's Venice Beach boardwalk. The driver killed a pedestrian and injured 11 others.

LOS ANGELES, California - A drunk driver who ploughed his car through crowds on California's Venice Beach boardwalk has been convicted of second-degree murder because he killed an Italian honeymooner

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Nathan Campbell, 39, was angry about a drug deal gone bad and targeted vendors and tourists on the popular walkway.

Campbell was convicted for the August 2013 death of Alice Gruppioni. Verdicts were read on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of the incident in which 17 people were injured. He is facing life in prison.

TEARS IN COURT

His lawyer acknowledged that Campbell killed Gruppioni and collided with other people but claimed he had tried to avoid them and wasn't guilty of murder.

Gruppioni, 32, was carried 91m on the car's bonnet then rolled off. She had fatal head injuries.


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Her widower, Christian Casadei, fought back tears during the trial as he described trying to pull her into a doorway as the car bore down on them. She died as he held her hand.

SURRENDERED TO POLICE

In opening statements, deputy district attorney Victor Avila told jurors that Campbell was bent on revenge after a drug dealer took the equivalent of R440 but never returned with methamphetamine for himself and a friend.

Avila said Campbell told a homeless man before heading to his car: "Point them out, I'll run them over."

Campbell was legally drunk when he surrendered.

Defence lawyer James Cooper told jurors that his client swerved to avoid people, hitting tents, an ATM, a row of bikes and a mannequin.

Cooper, in his closing argument, said: "Yes, my client did cause this tragic, nonsensical, event, Mr Campbell is a killer. However, unintentional killings are not murder."


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