Neighborhood watch shooter gets prison
West Jordan • "Pure crap."
That's what 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris called Reginald Campos' insistence he fired in self-defense at a fellow neighborhood watch advocate during a confrontation on a Bluffdale street last year.
His voice rising, Kouris also scolded Campos for expressing no sympathy for the plight of his victim, 37-year-old David Serbeck, who is paralyzed from the chest down because of the shooting.
"I can't wrap my head around it," Kouris told Campos. "You have absolutely no contrition for any part of this."
Saying Campos left him "no choice," the judge sentenced the 44-year-old accountant to the maximum back-to-back prison terms of three years to life and zero to five years.
A 3rd District Court jury in July convicted Campos of first-degree felony attempted murder and two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault.
Kouris on Thursday merged one of the aggravated assault counts with the attempted murder count, on the theory that Campos pointing a gun at Serbeck and subsequently shooting Serbeck were part of one crime.
The second aggravated assault count pertains to Serbeck's passenger, Perry Farms subdivision homeowners association president Troy Peterson, who was with him the night of July 22, 2009, as they patrolled the neighborhood.
The shooting apparently occurred because of a misunderstanding.
While on patrol, Serbeck and Peterson had at one point followed what they believed was a suspicious vehicle, unaware it was driven by Campos' teenage daughter, who was with three girlfriends.
The girls called Campos, who drove out and followed them home. He then told his daughter to go with him in search of the SUV.
When Campos spotted Serbeck's SUV, he pulled in front, forced it to stop and jumped out waving a gun and screaming about someone following his daughter, according to Serbeck's testimony.
Campos who did not take the witness stand had told police he fired after he heard Serbeck rack his pistol and saw him raise the weapon.
But Serbeck testified he tried to reason with Campos and that he had placed his gun on the ground and kicked it away when Campos began shooting.
Defense attorney Rebecca Skordas called the shooting the result of "a perfect storm. I can't imagine this set of events ever occurring again."
Skordas insisted Campos who has no prior criminal record would never again pose a danger to society. Kouris denied her request to reduce Campos' sentence for attempted murder by one degree.
Skordas claimed, as she did at trial, that when Campos went out looking for Serbeck's SUV, he was merely trying to protect his family and his daughter.
But the judge said the "irony of this whole thing" is that his daughter was safe at home when Campos made her come with him "to a place with the potential for a gun fight."
The judge said Campos instead could have called police, or merely jotted down Serbeck's license number once he located the SUV.
"You made a horrible decision," Kouris told the defendant.
Instead of apologizing for his actions, Campos told pre-sentence investigators compiling a report for Kouris: "I do not have sympathy for the, quote, victim."
Skordas said Campos made that statement after learning, following trial, that Serbeck had been accused of certain bad acts, which the judge did not allow Skordas to specify.
Campos insisted Thursday he had been "honest and truthful" in his retelling of the shooting episode. He also asked God, "through the power of the Holy Ghost," to convey the fact of his truthfulness to the judge.
Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Nathan Evershed said Campos, by grabbing a gun and taking the law into his own hands, had sentenced Serbeck to life in a wheelchair.
Evershed read excerpts from letters written by Serbeck's son and daughter, who said they miss roller blading, biking and boating with their father; and from his wife, who also wrote of how drastically their lives have changed.
Serbeck declined to speak at the hearing. But in his letter to the court, he complained that Campos had shown "not one ounce of compassion."
What's next? Case likely to continue
P Family members of Reginald Campos said Thursday he plans to appeal his conviction.