At this point I'm not sure what I'll recommend (to the full parole board), quite frankly. —Parole hearing officer Kathy Crawford
UTAH STATE PRISON — If he wouldn't have had a gun with him, Reggie Campos said he doubts he would have confronted David Serbeck on the night of July 22, 2009.
"It gave me a sense of security," he said Thursday during a parole hearing at the Utah State Prison.
But while Campos admitted to the parole hearing officer that "I did not need to put myself in that position" and that there were "several points along the line I could have made different choices" that night, he wanted it known that not everything happened the way police and prosecutors wrote in their reports.
The complicated case of Campos and Serbeck began when Campos confronted Serbeck, who he believed had been chasing his frightened daughter. Campos shot Serbeck, who is now permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Campos also pointed his gun at another man who was with Serbeck.
In 2010, Campos, 44, was sentenced to three years to life in prison for attempted murder with injury, a first-degree felony. The judge ordered the sentence be served consecutively with his sentence for his conviction of aggravated assault.
Just last month, the Utah Court of Appeals overturned Campos' attempted murder conviction and said he was eligible for a new trial, agreeing that he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective legal counsel. However, his conviction on aggravated assault — for pointing the gun at the second man — was upheld.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Thursday his office had not yet had a chance to review the appeals court ruling and could not say whether it will retry Campos on the attempted murder charge.
Serbeck is also in prison, serving time for an unrelated case involving sexual contact with a teenage girl. He was sentenced in 2012 to up to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old, a third-degree felony.
He has also filed a civil lawsuit against Campos.
Thursday's parole hearing for Campos was for his aggravated assault conviction. Although parole hearing officer Kathy Crawford reminded him at one point that she wasn't there to hold another trial, Campos said he "wanted to give a better picture of what occurred."
Campos told her that after his daughter and her friends came home in hysterics, he started driving her around just to calm her down. "I didn't go looking for Serbeck," he said.
But just 30 seconds later, he said he saw two headlights and "at that point made the decision to check it out." He said he felt a sense of security because he grabbed his gun before he left the house.
"I didn't know what was going on," he told Crawford as to why he took his gun with him. "I didn't know what to expect."
Campos denied that he has had no remorse over the shooting, calling Serbeck's paralysis a horrible situation that he wouldn't wish upon anyone.
Campos has completed a number of courses while in prison, and he noted he had even learned to crochet and was learning how to play guitar. But Crawford also pointed out that he has had four "write-ups" for minor violations of prison rules. Even though they were small violations, she said it spoke to a bigger issue.
"It's a matter of following laws and rules," she said. "Your lack of following what should have been common sense resulted in a tragedy.
"At this point I'm not sure what I'll recommend (to the full parole board), quite frankly," Crawford told Campos. The full board will make a decision about his parole in a few weeks.
After the hearing, Campos was allowed to speak to his 18 family members and friends who attended the hearing to show support. Campos became very emotional when he was allowed to turn his chair around and face the large gathering. More tears were shed than words spoken during the brief conversation.
"It's going to work out," one family member said in encouragement.
"We're getting things ready for you," another said, anticipating his release.
"We know who you are. It only matters what we think," said a supporter.
"It's almost over," said another.
No one from Serbeck's family was present during the hearing.
Outside the parole hearing gates, Campos' wife, Kathy, said she could tell her husband was "really nervous" at the hearing. She also said the family was encouraged by the recent appeals court ruling.
"We just want him home. He needs to be home. He's a great guy, and we miss him and he just needs to be home," she said.