2 Brothers Get Jail in Death by Drinking : Courts: The Thousand Oaks men urged the 14-year-old boy to chug whiskey during a camping trip to Leo Carrillo State Beach. He later died.
Two Thousand Oaks brothers were each sentenced to a year in jail Monday for involuntary manslaughter after a Santa Monica judge heard emotional pleas from the family of a 14-year-old boy who died after the brothers goaded him into chugging part of a bottle of whiskey.
David Campbell, 29, and Patrick Campbell, 23, were also ordered to serve three years probation and 500 hours of community service for their part in the alcohol-poisoning death of Leland Scovis of Thousand Oaks. Leland was the youngest member of a group of teen-agers chaperoned by the brothers on a camping trip at Leo Carrillo State Beach last April.
Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Robert Thomas told the Campbell brothers, who entered pleas of no contest to the charges last month, to use their community service to explain to others about the tragedy they encountered and the dangers of alcohol.
“My feeling is I want as many people to hear about this as possible,” the judge said, looking at the brothers, who were impassive through most of the proceedings. The Campbells remained free on $5,000 bail Monday. They have five weeks to put their affairs in order before surrendering to the court for their year behind bars.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott Gordon--who had asked the judge to sentence the brothers to two years in state prison--said he was “comfortable” with the sentence.
Leland’s mother, Jenny Scovis, whose family had vehemently argued for state prison terms, said she was also satisfied with the sentence. But, she added, “I don’t think they can ever do anything to pay us back.”
Leland was invited on the camping trip by a friend who was the brother of David Campbell’s fiancee, Priscilla Vernon, according to court testimony.
At the beginning of the trip, David Campbell told a park ranger that he would take responsibility for the boys when they arrived at the park. But he and Patrick Campbell later supplied the group of teen-agers with alcohol, witnesses said.
Patrick Campbell bet Leland that he could not drink the two to three inches of whiskey left in a half-gallon bottle without getting sick, according to testimony.
Leland then chugged the liquor and collapsed shortly thereafter, witnesses said. For the next hour, Patrick Campbell stuck his fingers down Leland’s throat to clear his airway, they said.
At some point, both Campbell brothers left the teen-agers and returned to the campsite, witnesses said. Later, as the boys tried to take Leland back to the campsite, they noticed that he was having problems breathing, witnesses said.
After some attempts by the Campbells to revive the boy, paramedics were called and Leland was taken by helicopter to Westlake Medical Center in Westlake Village. He died two days later. Experts later testified that Leland may have had a 0.52% blood alcohol level shortly after drinking the whiskey.
The events surrounding Leland’s death and the grief that it caused were replayed Monday as members of the Campbell and Scovis families spoke in court about the tragedy.
“Should I tell you about Mother’s Day at the cemetery or anniversaries not celebrated?” Jenny Scovis asked the Campbells. “I can no longer wear contact lenses because I cry daily. It’s like a dark cloud descended on us.”
Leland’s sister Kim Weist, 25, said she suffered a nervous breakdown and almost committed suicide in the weeks after Leland’s death. She described Leland as an honorable young boy who went out of his way to protect his friends and help those who were less fortunate. But the teen-ager also was insecure and yearned for acceptance because he was an adopted Korean child in a white family, family members said.
“How can you two get such enjoyment from such vulnerability?” Leland’s sister Teena Scovis asked the two brothers before sentencing.
Probation reports on the two brothers also said their “involvement in the victim’s death is indicative of immaturity, irresponsibility and callousness.”
“The circumstances of this incident alone indicate that the defendant is a serious threat to the community,” wrote Los Angeles County deputy probation officer Carol Traylor in her report on David Campbell. Patrick Campbell had no prior criminal record but David Campbell was sentenced to 30 days in Ventura County Jail in 1980 after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor burglary charge, the report said.
The report on Patrick Campbell quotes him as calling the event an “absolute tragedy” but said David Campbell believed the press blew the incident out of proportion.
Defense attorneys described the brothers as remorseful. They and three family members who spoke for the brothers said the men did not realize the effects that alcohol could have.
The Campbell relatives asked for leniency, saying the brothers had suffered tremendously during the past year. They said David, a construction worker, and Patrick, a construction worker and professional skier, had spent sleepless nights, often cried and would trade places with Leland if they could.