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Venice crash suspect pleads not guilty to murder, other charges

The man accused of using his car to kill an Italian honeymooner and injure 17 people in Venice pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, is charged with one count of murder with a deadly and dangerous weapon in the death of Alice Gruppioni, 32, who was honeymooning with her husband at the time she was fatally struck.

Campbell, a Colorado native, also faces 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, including three with great bodily injury, and 10 counts of hit and run.

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He was ordered Jan. 8 to stand trial for murder. Witness testimony bolstered surveillance video footage showing Campbell’s 2008 Dodge Avenger ramming past a barrier onto the beachfront pedestrian walkway before striking people as it careened for at least half a mile.

Witnesses testified the car appeared to deliberately strike people -- even as they tried to avoid it -- while zigzagging down the boardwalk. They said the driver did not honk or offer any warnings. 

The car rammed over an automated teller machine, turned over tents and tables and tossed jewelry and other wares into the air. About an hour after the Aug. 3 incident, Campbell turned himself in to Santa Monica police.

Public defender Philip Dube has argued the situation was an accident, contending the recently purchased car had issues with a spring on the shift lever and Campbell, who was parked illegally, struggled to get the vehicle out of its parking gear that day.

When the car pushed forward, Campbell, who has a history of alcohol abuse, panicked as he lurched onto the sidewalk and then onto the boardwalk, Dube said.

Campbell’s pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 13. 


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