UTAH STATE PRISON — The man once convicted of shooting a neighborhood watchman during a confrontation in Bluffdale, leaving the man paralyzed, is scheduled to be released from prison.
But because of several recent court rulings, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole held a special hearing Wednesday to determine whether Reggie Campos should still be released Tuesday as scheduled or remain in prison for another year.
Campos, 44, shot David Serbeck on July 22, 2009, and pointed his gun at another man who was with Serbeck during a late-night confrontation in the middle of a street in their Bluffdale neighborhood. The two men lived five minutes apart but had never met each other until that night. The shooting left Serbeck permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Campos, a licensed CPA, said he believed a stranger was pursuing his frightened teenage daughter. He claimed he was acting in self-defense. Serbeck said he was simply doing a neighborhood watch patrol.
Campos was originally convicted of attempted murder and aggravated assault and sentenced to up to five years in prison. But in the fall of 2013, the Utah Supreme Court overturned the attempted murder conviction and said Campos was eligible for a new trial.
The state's high court ruled that he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective legal counsel. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office had to decide whether IT would refile the charge and hold a new trial.
In April, a plea deal was worked out in which Campos was charged with discharge of a firearm, a second-degree felony, for shooting Serbeck and immediately pleaded guilty. As part of the deal, the district attorney's office sent a letter to the parole board recommending no additional prison time for Campos.
On Wednesday, a hearing was held to review the new conviction and put a full parole board decision on the fast track so Campos could still be released from prison Tuesday — if that's how the full parole board votes.
Campos' demeanor throughout his ordeal has been questioned by some in the legal system. He made no apology during sentencing, and 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris said Campos showed no remorse while calling his claim of self-defense "pure crap."
Campos' family had said in the past that he had struggled with how to reconcile his remorse, especially when he felt he was protecting his family.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Campos submitted a letter to the court asking whether the lifetime restraining order was still in place as part of his new sentence. In the letter, he wrote, "I probably won't have the nicest of things to say about the prosecutor and judge, but who knows. I am trying to forgive and move on. Some days are better than others.
"By the way, I have no animosity toward Serbeck for lying. He is what he is. I am only disappointed in those who are in a position of trust who let me down," he wrote.
But Campos had tears in his eyes Wednesday as he told Parole Board Chairman Clark Harms that when discussing with his wife a couple of months ago whether to fight the new charge or take the plea deal so he might be paroled Tuesday, his wife told him, "'I'm looking forward to you coming home. But if you still have hate and anger, don't come home.' So I make a choice, continue to fight this to clear my name, or do I try to put this behind me? And that's what I chose to do, to try and put it behind us and let this hate and anger go."
And by letting go of the frustration he had toward the prosecutor, "it really helped me to try and move forward with my life," he said.
Conrad Campos, one of Reggie Campos' five brothers, said after the hearing that he had seen a change in his competitive and strong-willed brother.
"I see an opening and a willingness to forgive and a williningess to see better the good in people," Conrad Campos said. "This was a horrible incident that happened, and we were all bitter. I was bitter. It's an educational process. It's a humbling process. He's changed a lot. He's had that light bulb moment."
Harms also informed Reggie Campos just prior to Wednesday's hearing that the parole board had received a letter from Serbeck.
"Clearly he believes the third-degree felony you've been sent to prison on is not sufficient to account for the injury to his life and the damage to his person, his lifestyle and his paralysis. However, he ends his letter by indicating he believes you should be able to retain this parole date of next week," he said.
Harms then asked Reggie Campos what he would say to Serbeck is he were at the hearing.
"I wish him the best," he said. "I'd tell him I'm sorry for the situation I put him in. I wish him the best and hope he can move on, as I'm trying to move on as well."3 comments on this story
If he is released Tuesday, Reggie Campos said, he plans to live in Hurricane with his wife and family.
"I don't perceive that I'm a violent person and that there's a risk for future offenses. I like to go to work, pay my bills and stay out of trouble," he said.
Serbeck is also in prison. After the Campos trial was over, Serbeck was convicted in 2012 on three counts of unlawful sex with a minor, a 17-year-old neighbor girl. His next parole hearing is scheduled for 2015.