August 6th, 2013
09:58 PM ET

Man pleads not guilty to driving into crowd at Venice Beach, killing 1

By Stan Wilson, CNN

LOS ANGELES - A motorist pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of murder and multiple other charges, three days after he allegedly drove his car into pedestrians at the famed Venice Beach Boardwalk in California, killing an Italian honeymooner.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, is charged with murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run, said Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger.

The charges include the special allegation of use of a deadly weapon, a car. Campbell, who was being held on $1.48 million bail, could face a life sentence if convicted.

Campbell, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit at his arraignment, was handcuffed at the waist and wrists.

When asked whether he wanted to waive his right to a speedy trial, Campbell answered, "Yes, sir" during the brief appearance.

His court-appointed attorney, Philip Dube, said his client was "very distraught" over the incident, but did not deliberately strike anyone.

"I don't believe he intentionally tried to hit anybody, based on my cursory review of the case and my discussions with the D.A.," said Dube.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz set the next hearing for September 4. He and attorneys will discuss scheduling a preliminary hearing.

Campbell is accused of driving his 2008 Dodge Avenger onto the boardwalk, killing 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni of Italy. She suffered blunt trauma to the head and neck, according to Los Angeles County coroner spokesman Ed Winter.

Eight women and eight men were hurt Saturday, authorities said.

"It was horrible. I mean it was like something out of a movie, something you would never expect to see," witness Katherine Blackburn told CNN affiliate KABC.

The city boardwalk is a popular tourist attraction on the west side of Los Angeles, and is lined with hundreds of street vendors and performers.

Police said Campbell abandoned the vehicle a few miles from the Venice Beach incident and turned himself into Santa Monica police about two hours later.

In a statement, Gruppioni's family expressed thanks for prayers from "so many around the world."

"No words can adequately express the grief and sorrow we are feeling as we mourn the loss of a beautiful person, family member and young bride," the family said. "Thank you all for your concerns as we begin to search for answers."

New details emerged Tuesday about Campbell, who once worked at a residential substance abuse center in Denver, Colorado.

Campbell was a chef and house manager at the Phoenix Concept from April 2010 to February 2012, said David Hall, program director for the Sobriety House Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center.

Campbell returned in December 2012 and worked until June before leaving, said Hall who declined to state the reason for his departure.

"While he was here he was a good employee and never had any issues that raised concern," said Hall.

According to its website, the Phoenix Concept merged with Sobriety House in October 2007. It is a 30-bed facility for men challenged by addictions.

CNN's Erica Henry contributed to this report.

Filed under: California • Crime • Uncategorized
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    What can his defense possibly be?
    This is sad.

    August 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlene

      His defense is that the state of California had inadequate signage on the boardwalk, creating uncertainty on who had the right-of-way. His lawsuit against the state is pending, so he will be a wealthy man when he's released from the two weeks rehabilitation he probably will be sentenced to for this mishap.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. BOMBO

    I just got home from work. I'm cooking spaghetti and having a relaxing beer. I'm not in the mood to play "find the blocked word in my attempted post" with CNN right now. Maybe later.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO

    Left scene.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOMBO

    Prosecutors need to prove him driver.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO

    Witness needs to identify driver.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOMBO

    He hope for conflicting witness statements.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOMBO

    Reasonable doubt him there driving if so.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOMBO

    Trust me folks, my original (blocked) comment was much more coherent.

    August 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scottish Mama

    @Bombo- it is always better the 1st time. After that I never can remember all the points I wanted to make. The man says not guilty, not!

    August 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scottish Mama

    My condolences to the man who has lost his newlywed wife.

    August 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ivan

    The news is now reporting that the accused, Nathan Campbell, was frustrated that he could not find a job. Prior to this incident, he just left the day-labor office with no success. Alas, another casualty of soshialist obamnomics that have destroyed Cali. "Would you like fries with that burger" just ain't sustaining a middle class. His lawyer public defender Philip Dube said Campbell did not intend to hit anyone, and that he is "profoundly depressed" about the economy.

    August 8, 2013 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Oh, I just knew Obama was at fault!

      August 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Unemployment is lower than when Bush was in office.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    Lol @ Ivan, you're having a verrrrry hard time making up your mind whether your name is Ivan or Eduardo aren't you? And i might add neither of those names are american btw so you are hardly an expert!

    August 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ronvan

    AW, COME ON HERE! The american way! NOT guilty, I was depressed, I have bad eyesight, didn't see the signs, sun was in my face, the car took over, I am crazy, God told me to do it, those people were responsible? Looking at the video it looks, to me, as if he did NOTHING to try and aviod this ? YET, we will give him his day in court and maybe, just maybe, a slick attorney will come up with some "excuse" as to the cause!

    August 9, 2013 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sonia

    He didn't intentionally hit anyone? Is that a joke? He, purposely, drove his car into a crowded boardwalk! how is that not purposeful?

    August 23, 2013 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |