Los Angeles News

Venice Beach boardwalk crash suspect pleads not guilty

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A Colorado transient on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges in the deadly rampage on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, was charged with one count of murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run, according to Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger. The charges include a special allegation of using a car as a deadly weapon.

Campbell is accused of running down crowds of people on the boardwalk Saturday evening, killing a woman and injuring 11 other people. He surrendered to police the night of the incident.

Campbell's attorney says his client did not mean to hurt anyone.

"I don't believe he intentionally tried to hit anybody. He is quite distraught. He is very saddened that an individual has lost their life," said defense attorney Philip Dube. "He does not believe he is a homicidal person. He does not set out in life to injure or to harm people."

Campbell is being held on $1.48 million bail. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Campbell appears to have a history of run-ins with the law. Bay County sheriff's officials in Florida said Campbell was arrested in April 2008 for reckless driving with alcohol.

Investigators said Campbell spent time in jail in 2009 for shoplifting in Colorado, where he had lived as recently as last year.

A representative with Covenant House, a non-profit agency that helps homeless youth, confirmed to Eyewitness News that Campbell was an in-and-out resident at their Hollywood facility from April 1995 to August 1996.

Investigators did not release a motive. Toxicology results are pending to determine whether drugs or alcohol were factors.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin on Tuesday introduced a legislative package calling for safety upgrades at the boardwalk. Bonin, whose district includes Venice, submitted a motion to add concrete barriers that would prevent vehicles from entering the boardwalk.

Meantime, family members of Alice Gruppioni, the only person killed in the tragic incident, have broken their silence about their loss.

Gruppioni was in Los Angeles on her honeymoon with her husband, Christian Casadei. They both were struck, but Casadei had non-life-threatening injuries. Casadei, spoke out about his wife Monday.

"There isn't words that can explain what happened and what I feel. I want to come back to Italy with her," Casadei said through tears.

Gruppioni's family members have arrived in Los Angeles. They are making arrangements to take her body back to Italy for a funeral.

The owners of Candle Cafe & Grill set up fund for the victims of this tragedy.

You can send donations in care of "North Venice Beach Vendors" to:

Candle Café & Grill
325 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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venice beach, lapd, car crash, los angeles news
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