Neighborhood watch shooter’s conviction overturned

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of a Bluffdale man who shot and paralyzed another man in a neighborhood watch confrontation.

In a ruling handed down late Thursday, the appellate court overturned the attempted murder conviction of Reggie Campos, but upheld his conviction on aggravated assault. Campos had claimed errors made by his defense attorney at trial; the appellate court agreed.

“While each instance alone might not be sufficiently prejudicial to require reversal in this case, taken as a whole trial counsel’s deficient performance undermines our confidence in the verdict on the attempted murder charge,” the court wrote in its ruling.

The court said Campos’ defense attorney did not request special jury instructions on extreme emotional distress, nor did they object to the jury verdict form or statements prosecutors made in closing arguments.

In 2009, David Serbeck was acting as neighborhood watch in his Bluffdale neighborhood when he began following a car that Campos’ daughter was in. She had claimed Serbeck had followed her earlier in the evening and told her father.

Campos confronted Serbeck in the street, and each presented a different account of what happened next.

“Serbeck testified at trial that Campos got out of his SUV pointing his gun at Serbeck and Serbeck’s neighbor,” the court wrote, adding that Serbeck then drew his gun.

Campos claimed he did not draw his firearm first.

“He saw Serbeck get out of his SUV holding a gun and stand halfway behind the open door,” the court said of Campos’ version of events. “Campos heard Serbeck rack his gun and saw him start to raise it. Campos pulled his own gun out of his pocket, racked it, and fired at Serbeck.”

During the confrontation, Campos shot Serbeck in the chest, paralyzing him. Campos claimed he fired in self-defense.

Campos was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to three-to-life in prison. He was also sentenced to serve up to five years in prison for aggravated assault.

In another twist to the case, Serbeck was later convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and sentenced to prison. The parole board ordered him to have another hearing in 2015.

The Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office would have to decide if it were to re-try Campos for attempted murder. The parole board would decide whether to vacate his sentence.