Judge may decide on murder trial for Venice boardwalk crash suspect

A judge could decide Wednesday whether a man accused of using his car to kill an Italian honeymooner and injure 16 people on the Venice Boardwalk in August will stand trial for murder and other charges.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, turned himself in to Santa Monica police an hour after the Aug. 3 incident. He’s charged with 17 counts of hit-and-run, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of murder in the death of Alice Gruppioni, 32.

Witness testimony bolstered surveillance video footage that shows Campbell’s 2008 Dodge Avenger ramming past a barrier post onto the beachfront pedestrian walkway before striking people as it careened for at least half a mile.


One witness, John Drolette, 58, of Fresno, testified that he saw the crashes from the Cadillac Hotel fire escape.

“He didn’t stop,” Drolette testified. “In fact, he revved up, and you could hear the vehicle’s transmission go into overdrive.”

When people parted to the sides, the car “went left-right, left-right — zigging — hitting people who had moved out of the way,” Drolette said.

Public defender Philip Dube has argued that the situation was an accident. He’s said that Campbell, who has a history of alcohol abuse, had recently purchased the vehicle and clearly intended to keep it in good condition.

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