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Jury convicts man of murder in Venice Boardwalk crash

Man convicted of deliberately driving onto Venice boardwalk, killing one person and injuring 17 others

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 second-degree 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-and-run charges.

He now faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors initially sought a conviction of first-degree 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.

 

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