Suspect pleads not guilty in deadly Venice Boardwalk crash

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In this image take from a security camera, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Snapchat)

In this image take from a security camera, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Snapchat)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A man who was behind the wheel of a car that plowed into crowds of people on the Venice boardwalk last summer, killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon and injuring more than a dozen other people, pleaded not guilty today to murder and other charges.

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, is charged with one count of murder, 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 10 counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

Alice Gruppioni, a 32-year-old woman visiting Venice on her honeymoon, was killed Aug. 3 when Campbell drove south down Ocean Front Walk from Dudley Avenue to near Sunset Avenue, causing chaos and panic at one of Los Angeles’ biggest tourist magnets.

After a Jan. 8 hearing in which Campbell was ordered to stand trial, defense attorney Philip Dube told reporters that his client “never intended to hurt anybody or to kill that young lady.”

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, a transient from Colorado, in Los Angeles Superior Court, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, a transient from Colorado, in Los Angeles Superior Court, Aug. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Campbell’s attorney contended that what happened was an accident and that Campbell “panicked” when he experienced a problem with the shift lever on the 2008 Dodge Avenger he had bought a few weeks earlier at a used car dealership in Colorado. The lawyer said his client was struggling to get the Avenger out of the parking gear when he gunned the sedan and it went forward.

Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila said at the preliminary hearing that Campbell was “going down a two-block boardwalk” and “hit people at different locations.” It is the prosecution’s position that Campbell “drove that vehicle, hitting whatever got in his way,” Avila said.

Campbell — who has been jailed since his arrest that day — is due back at the Airport Branch Courthouse March 13 for a pretrial hearing.

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