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Venice boardwalk driver pleads not guilty

A man accused of striking people the Venice boardwalk with his car was in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.
November 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A man accused of striking people the Venice boardwalk with his car was in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Witnesses said he used a car as a weapon and targeted one person after another in the August rampage.

Seven witnesses who were flown in from around the world testified at the first of a two-part preliminary hearing for Nathan Campbell, describing their efforts to protect children and themselves as the car came hurtling through the beachside crowd on a Sunday in August. A prosecutor said that, due to witness schedules, the hearing would stop and pick up again in two months.

A judge eventually will rule whether Campbell, 38, should stand trial on one count of murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and 17 counts of hit-and-run. Italian newlywed Alice Gruppioni, 32, who was on her honeymoon, was killed and 16 other people were injured.

Witnesses told the judge that Campbell appeared to be aiming for people with his car.

The prosecution showed surveillance video clips of Campbell allegedly speeding through the boardwalk.

Eyewitnesses testified that Campbell looked straight ahead and focused as he swerved through the crowded boardwalk.

Campbell, who appeared in court Tuesday in street clothes - gray pants and shirt - with a stubbly beard, has pleaded not guilty. His attorney has called it "a horrible accident."

If convicted, Campbell could face life in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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