Conviction Upheld for Murder of Man Thrown Out of Plane

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 4th District Court of Appeal announced Monday that it has upheld the conviction of Donald P. DiMascio for the 1982 murder of a young man whose body was tossed out of an airplane near Santa Catalina Island.

The same court last year overturned the murder conviction of DiMascio's co-defendant, Lawrence R. Cowell, who is scheduled to face a new trial in the murder next month.

The appellate justices, who had found that Cowell's statements to undercover police agents had been coerced, ruled that DiMascio's statements to the same police agents a few days later had been made voluntarily.

The two were convicted of first-degree murder in separate trials stemming from the April 17, 1982, death of Scott Campbell, 27.

Prosecutors said that Cowell was piloting the small private airplane and that DiMascio was the actual killer.

Campbell was the son of Gary and Collene Campbell, who are now leaders of a statewide court reform effort. Collene Campbell was also a sister of Mickey Thompson, who was murdered along with his wife, Trudi, in front of their home in Los Angeles County two years ago.

Prosecutors said Cowell, a longtime friend of Campbell, found out that he was involved in a drug sale and wanted to cash in on it.

DiMascio, prosecutors said, was brought into the plan by Cowell. Both defendants are now 40.

Prosecutors will not be able to use Cowell's secretly taped confession to the police agents at his next trial. Cowell, who had served two years in prison for the Campbell killing before the appellate court reversed his conviction, is free on $250,000 bail.

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