42 Years for Boardwalk Killer Nathan Louis Campbell


A Colorado man who drove his car along the crowded Venice boardwalk, killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon and hitting 17 others just over two years ago, was sentenced today to 42 years to life in prison.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 40, was convicted June 5 of second-degree murder for the Aug. 3, 2013, death of 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni, along with 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 10 counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano rejected a defense motion for a new trial last month. During Campbell’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told jurors the defendant had “full knowledge” of how crowded Venice’s Ocean Front Walk was because surveillance footage showed him walking earlier on the popular tourist destination, and that Campbell had threatened to run over a drug dealer whom he believed had taken a friend’s money and never returned with drugs.

“Defendant Campbell hit 18 pedestrians with his car, killing a young
woman. If not for sheer luck, more people could have been killed. Defendant created chaos and a scenario of great violence which to this date has not only traumatized the victims, but also witnesses who observed from a distance,” the prosecutor wrote in a sentencing memorandum, adding that Campbell  “personally
used a 3,000-pound vehicle as a deadly weapon.”

Campbell’s attorney, James P. Cooper III, conceded during the trial that his client was driving the 2008 blue Dodge Avenger that barreled down the boardwalk, but said Campbell was actually doing everything he could to avoid striking pedestrians.

During the sentencing hearing, Campbell read from a prepared 2 1/2-page handwritten statement, saying he was “responsible for a terrible incident that has caused lasting physical pain and mental anguish for several people.”

“This was not an intentional act. This was a horrible accident that I
am responsible for causing because of a combined set of circumstances, the way that I reacted to them, my own bad judgment, confusion, panic and fear,”

Campbell wrote, “This incident has been a lasting nightmare for everyone involved… a nightmare that I am responsible for causing.”

“… Every minute of every day I wish that the horrible things that
happened on August 3rd, 2013, had not … There are no words that could ever accurately express how truly sorry I am for what happened that day,” Campbell wrote, adding that he hoped that Gruppioni’s husband, family and friends will find “some small measure of peace in their lives.”

Campbell also said he wished that, “I had not used used such bad
judgment as to drive when I was so tired and exhausted that I could barely stay awake. I wish that I had not been so careless and paid attention as to when I shifted. I wish that I had hit the poles at the end of Dudley instead of trying to give myself a few more feet to stop so that I would not damage my car. More than anything, I wish that I could have stopped instead of panicking, causing pain to so many people or just parked somewhere else so that this event had
never happened.”

The judge, however, took issue with Campbell’s characterization of his actions as an “accident.”

“This whole scenario from my perspective is not an accident,”
Solorzano said.  “Everything you did on that date is criminal behavior. Crimes took place on the boardwalk.”

Solorzano noted that some of the victims had extreme injuries — some partially disabled, and some emotionally disabled.

“All  you had to do was stop, because there was nothing wrong with the brakes,” she told Campbell.  ” … It was entirely avoidable.”

The judge also said the crime has cast a pall over the Venice tourist
attracting, changing the experience of visitors who know what happened there.

Avila also rejected Campbell’s claims that the drive on the boardwalk was accidental.

“To this day he claims that it’s an accident,” the prosecutor said
outside court. “The jury found that this was not an accident, that this was an intentional act, that he acted with a conscious disregard for human life when he drove that vehicle onto Venice Beach boardwalk.

“He could have stopped at any point. Instead, he pressed on the gas,
continued to run over people and he injured them severely.”

During the sentencing hearing, Avila played a roughly 16-minute video featuring Gruppioni’s aunt, Katia, and showing scenes of the victim’s family. Alice Gruppioni had been married for about two weeks.

Avila also read statements from a French couple who were on the
boardwalk that day, “We ran to save our lives … but unfortunately I was hit,” Joanna Botton said in the statement. “… I don’t even know how I managed to survive the hit.”

Botton said she suffered physical and psychological injuries, and still
has nightmares about Campbell behind the wheel of the car.

In court last month, several people who were injured on the boardwalk said they still don’t understand why Campbell did what he did.

“I will forever feel that this person was on a mission to maim and
kill,” Judith Fox said. Fox said she will always ask, “why would somebody rob so many people of so much?”

Nancy Martinez, who walked into court with a cane, said her “life
changed completely on that date of the accident because of this guy.”

“It’s been two years now, but I’m still in pain with the trauma and
fear of going out,” she said.

– from CNS

300 Vendors Lined Up For Abbot Kinney Festival This Sunday

Venice, get ready to party! It’s on again – the Abbot Kinney Festival is taking over the street. Abbot Kinney Blvd. shuts down traffic and opens up to those ready to join all the fun of a mile-long street party Sunday, Sept. 27 from 10 am-6 pm.

The festival is a free event that gives back to the community.

“Yes it’s a big party, but it’s more than that,” said Donna Humphrey, chair of the Abbot Kinney Festival Association, the non-profit group that produces the festival each year. “Any money spent at the festival goes directly back to the community to support Venice-based, non-profit organizations. Primarily those that support the youth community and the arts,” Humphrey said.

Ticket sales for any of the three beer gardens help raise money “that goes directly back into the Venice community in the form of grants,” Humphrey said. As does money raised at the always-popular Kid’s Quad, a family friendly zone featuring rides, games, and activities at Westminster Elementary.

Some of this year’s grant recipients include Venice High School’s STEMM Magnet, Venice Arts, and the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation.

Now in it’s 31st year, the Abbot Kinney Festival has always attracted a large mix of vendors. This year there will be over 300 vendors joining the food trucks and booths that will line the street.

The Boulevard’s eclectic boutiques, artisan eateries, and influential art galleries infuse the festival with a local flavor capturing the artistic Venice vibe.

This year Beyond Baroque will host the spoken word stage. Plus, there will be three music stages: the Andalusia “Locals” stage presented by Matt Ellis, the Broadway Stage presented by Beacon Street Studios, and at the Brig’s Palms Stage with DJ’s spinning all day.

At 2pm on the Andalusia Stage Councilmember Mike Bonin will present Spirit of Venice Awards.

“At this year’s awards, we will honor Sue Kaplan, Edizen Stowell, Cecilia Castillo, and Challis MacPherson. They are all people who have all made a positive impact on the Venice community,” Humphrey said.

Also, Street Art Projects will join the Abbot Kinney Festival for a second year to produce a chalk art festival – the Venice Street Art Festival – on Abbot Kinney Blvd. at Westminster Ave..

Street Art Projects is a grassroots Venice-based initiative for art in public places. The Street Art Festival is a contemporary version of the historic Italian tradition of the “Madonnari” where traveling artists would redraw the great works of the renaissance masters on city streets. At this year’s Abbot Kinney Festival a number of contemporary artists will be creating original chalk drawings.

While there will be valet parking available at points along Electric Ave. and one on Venice Blvd., arguable the most Venice-like way to enjoy the day is to ride a bike. There will be two bike valet locations, one at Venice and Abbot Kinney Blvds., the other at Abbot Kinney and Main St.

Photo by VenicePaparazzi.com.

Opinion: Mayor Garcetti Mistakes Santa Monica For Venice Beach

By Mark Ryavec

Given the obvious choice of L.A.’s own Venice Beach, with its ocean views, blue sky and palm trees, as the venue to hold the press conference to announce Los Angeles as the official U.S. bid city for the 2024 Olympics, it was odd to see Mayor Eric Garcetti standing at a podium in Santa Monica instead on Sept. 1.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Santa Monica. I was born there and have fond memories of growing up in the sleepy town that Santa Monica once was.

But doesn’t the Mayor know that Santa Monica is a separate municipality? It is not like Santa Monica is going to host a lot of events or absorb any of the cost overruns on the Olympics, which the rest of L.A., including Venice, will face if the 2024 Olympics go the way of almost every other Olympics in history.

Part of the purpose of garnering the Olympics is to boost Los Angeles’ notoriety and garner all those tourist dollars. So, what’s with putting the spotlight on our toney neighbor next door?

One poster on Yo! Venice suggested that the Mayor is scared of Venice.  Well, I understand that it would not do for him or one of the many athletes or journalists at the press conference to get a finger bitten off but I’m sure that the LAPD could have provided sufficient security just this once.

Maybe the Mayor is just not very familiar with all that Venice has to offer.

Two years ago, during the mayoral campaign, a group of Venetians attempted to remedy this. We held two well-attended fundraisers for Garcetti that raised about $30,000. We used the events as an opportunity to tell Garcetti about our on-going nightmare with the transient population and the use of Venice Beach as a campgrounds that attracts deranged and drug-addicted campers from all over the nation. He seemed to get it and gave us his personal phone number, telling us we could call him anytime. Oddly, after the election that number was disconnected and his campaign liaison moved on to other pursuits. Now no one in his office replies to telephone calls or emails. This must just be an oversight, of course.

So, let me use this column as an opportunity to acquaint His Honor with Venice’s many Olympic attributes.

First, he should consider that Venice has been pioneering new sports for Olympics consideration.

While Spain has the running of the bulls in Pamplona, we have the running of the cars on the Boardwalk. Imagine, visitors can stroll Ocean Front Walk, carefully listening for the rev of the engine of a car driven by a drugged-out guy angry at a drug deal gone bad.  Their challenge is to jump out of the way before they’re run over. No medals here, they just get to keep living. Trust me; the course is still open; I could have driven a car onto the Boardwalk at Rose Ave. last week.

Spain has “running with the bulls,” Venice Beach has “running from the cars.” Above, the aftermath of Nathan Campbell’s deadly drive down the Boardwalk.
Spain has “running with the bulls,” Venice Beach has “running from the cars.” Above, the aftermath of Nathan Campbell’s deadly drive down the Boardwalk.

Then there’s competitive roof climbing.

The object of this sport is for the roof climber to find and disable the half naked resident before she can call for help or escape. (The climbing venue pictured is at Windward and Riviera Avenues.)

On Washington Blvd. we have the novel and ever popular homeless-on-restaurateur finger-biting and chair-tossing competitions (Clabe Hartley was just clobbered again, by a chair hurled by a deranged man. Clabe had the temerity to ask not to keep dumping all the trash cans lining the street).

New Olympic Sport: Competitive Roof Climbing.
New Olympic Sport: Competitive Roof Climbing.

On Rose Ave. there is the annual police versus knife-wielding psycho challenge. So far, the LAPD is beating all comers.

We also have the unusual sport of curtain wrestling. Never heard of it? The objective is to frighten a young woman and her children out of their skin while you bleed all over their apartment and finish by convincingly wrestling a shower curtain to the floor of their blood covered bathroom before the police can arrive.

Then, to help all those athletes increase their performance and treat their pain, there is the mile long drug emporium from one end of Venice Beach to the other.

Now, who would want to stroll the dull streets of Paris with all these entertaining options available on the streets of Venice?

And Rome, well, I’m sure the Italians will look past the revulsion I saw in their faces when they heard that their countrywoman Alice Gruppioni had been run over on a pedestrian walkway at Venice Beach and they’ll just give up their Olympic bid.

Maybe, if Garcetti can arrange to hold all the Olympic events in Santa Monica, he can convince the world that none of the visitors and athletes arriving in 2024 will get hurt. But he seems to have given up on protecting the rest of us.

Sentencing Scheduled Today for Boardwalk Killer


The Colorado man who drove onto the Venice boardwalk plowing through the crowd, hitting 17 people and killing an Italian
woman on her honeymoon just over two years ago is scheduled to be sentenced today.

The sentence will be handed down by an LA County Superior judge early this afternoon. Prosecutors have asked that 40-year-old Nathan Louis Campbell be sentenced to nearly 49 years to life in state prison after his rampage on August 3, 2013.

Update to come.

Read about Campbell’s conviction here.

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