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Neighbor watch shooter to go free next week

Published July 18, 2014 7:24 pm

Parole • Reginald Campos has been incarcerated for four years.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Bluffdale man convicted of shooting a fellow neighborhood watch advocate will be released from prison on Tuesday as scheduled, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has decided.

Reginald Campos will be paroled after having spent nearly four years behind bars on an aggravated assault conviction. The maximum time he could have spent in prison on that count was five years; an attempted murder conviction that carried a sentence of up to life was overturned last year.

The parole date of July 22, 2014, was set last year. On Wednesday, the Board of Pardons and Parole held a special hearing to review whether a guilty plea Campos made in April to a firearm charge — which they had not considered when setting should delay his release.

Board members decided it should not. They noted in a brief order that neither the board nor the Utah Department of Corrections has any authority over the firearm matter — a judge sentenced Campos to 1 to 15 years in prison but then suspended the sentence.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office recommended the parole date not be rescinded. In addition, David Serbeck, who was paralyzed when he was shot by Campos, does not object to the release, according to the parole board.

Campos, 48, told the parole board Wednesday that after his release, he plans to live in southern Utah and work as a certified public accountant. He also wants to spend time with his family "and make up for these last years."

In response to board member questions, Campos said he is not at risk of committing future offenses.

"I like to go to work, pay my bills and stay out of trouble," he said. "I don't do drugs, I don't drink. I don't cause a problem."

Campos' case stems from a July 22, 2009, confrontation that began when his teenage daughter came home and said she had been followed by an SUV. Campos — who had become a neighborhood watch advocate after a recent rise of crime in the area — got a gun and, with his daughter, searched for the vehicle.

When he spotted the SUV, Campos forced it to stop and jumped out of his vehicle waving a gun, according to testimony at his 2010 trial. Serbeck — a neighbor watch advocate who, along with another man, reportedly was following Campos' daughter because they thought her vehicle was suspicious — stepped out of the SUV.

Serbeck, who turns 42 next week, was armed but testified that he lowered his gun by the barrel, kicked it away and stepped from behind his car door, saying, "Let's talk," before Campos shot him in the chest.

A 3rd District jury convicted Campos of first-degree felony attempted murder for shooting Serbeck and third-degree felony aggravated assault for pointing his gun at the other man in the SUV. Campos was sentenced to up to life in prison on the attempted murder count and to zero to five years on the assault count.

Campos appealed and in August, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed his attempted murder conviction. The court ruled his trial lawyers' failure to object to an inaccurately worded verdict form shifted the burden of proof onto Campos.

With only the aggravated assault charge remaining at that point, the parole board a month later set the July 22, 2014, release date.

Then, to resolve his case after the appeals court decision, Campos pleaded guilty in April to second-degree felony discharge of a firearm and received the suspended term.

Serbeck also has been serving prison time, in an unrelated matter. In March 2012, he was convicted on three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, all third-degree felonies, and has been ordered to spend up to 10 years in prison for the crimes. His next parole board hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1, 2015.

pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC