California: A jury in Minnesota has found Michael Laurence Campbell guilty of killing his 21-year-old Indian American girlfriend, Ria Patel, as a result of negligent driving. Campbell left the scene of crash on Sept 17, 2017, that resulted in the death of Patel. He was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide - one for the crash, the other for leaving the scene. Campbell is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5.
Assistant County Attorney Rachel Kraker called for a hearing to consider aggravating circumstances and said Campbell had multiple prior convictions for speeding and was on probation for a hit-and-run offense. The judge denied the motion, saying he will take the record of the trial and the emotional harm to the families in consideration at sentencing, it added.
Defense attorney Nancy Laskaris requested bail for Campbell prior to the sentencing date, which was denied. Prosecutors allege Campbell drove and crashed his red Ford Focus and then fled the scene after finding Ria Patel dead, according to the report. Court testimony indicated that Campbell ran about three miles to the home he shared with roommates. He locked himself in his room for several hours, calling Ria Patel’s phone from a blocked number multiple times and contacting his work to say he would miss his shift later that day, the report added.
Campbell claimed that Patel grabbed his face while he was driving and gave him a “passionate kiss.” The crash occurred during that kiss, he said. However, Patel suffered numerous serious injuries to her head and face and Campbell had none, according to testimony. The jury did not buy that story.
The family announced it would launch the Ria Patel Foundation, inspired by the young woman, and asked for the public’s support to end distracted and drunken driving, the report said. County Attorney Mike Freeman said he would ask for the longest sentence possible and estimated four years nine months. He said Campbell has not made an apology for his actions, just blame. He said the trial was “a very sad case” and that Campbell should have had enough dignity to admit his mistake, the report said.