Venice boardwalk crash suspect ordered to stand trial for murder
The man accused of using his car to kill an Italian honeymooner and injure 17 people on the Venice Boardwalk in August will stand trial for murder and other charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. found there was sufficient evidence for Nathan Louis Campbell, a 38-year-old Colorado native, to stand trial on one count of murder with a deadly and dangerous weapon for the death of Alice Gruppioni, 32, who was honeymooning with her husband at the time she was fatally struck.
Campbell also faces 17 counts of assault with deadly weapon, including three with great bodily injury, and 10 counts of hit-and-run. Prosecutors had previously listed the number of people injured in the alleged attack as 16.
Campbell turned himself in to Santa Monica police an hour after the incident Aug. 3.
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. Witnesses testified the car appeared to deliberately strike people -- even as they tried to avoid it -- while zigging and zagging down the boardwalk. They said the driver didn’t 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.
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 left onto the boardwalk, Dube said.
On Wednesday, the judge declined to disregard evidence from a reputed drug dealer who said Campbell and an unknown individual approached him on the boardwalk to buy meth. Though the dealer failed to identify Campbell in court, the judge said there was sufficient reason to believe the dealer’s testimony Campbell unsuccessfully tried to buy drugs before the incident.
Campbell is scheduled to be arraigned on the updated charges Jan. 22. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
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