Venice Boardwalk: Driver pleads not guilty to murder, 17 counts of hit and run (Update)

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Update: 4:49 p.m.: Defense attorney disputes his client is a 'transient'

Nathan Campbell spoke only twice in court Tuesday, to answer L.A. County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz’s questions if he understood the proceedings and agreed to various administrative procedures.

"I do," Campbell replied both times. He otherwise remained quiet, often with his eyes cast towards the floor.

Campbell's attorney, Philip Dubé of the L.A. Public Defender's Office, entered Campbell's pleas for him: not guilty on 1 count of murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon (the weapon being the car), and 17 counts of hit and run.

Afterwards, Dubé spoke briefly. The lawyer said he's had little time to review the case, but did speak with his client.

"I don't believe he intentionally tried to hit anyone," Dubé said. "He's profoundly sad, he's profoundly depressed that he has potentially ended somebody's life."

Dubé said he'll need to thoroughly investigate the case before determining what exactly happened and why.

"After we complete our investigation, we'll determine whether it was intentional or unintentional," the attorney said.

Dubé also said he's not aware of any drug or alcohol or criminal problems in Campbell's past, and disputed his characterization as a "transient."

"He's a law-abiding citizen," the lawyer said.

Campbell, originally from Georgia, has been living in California for two or three years, according to Dubé. He also, at one point, lived in Colorado. He also said his client has held jobs in construction and the restaurant industry and has worked as a mechanic. Dubé said Campbell's parents are deceased and he knows of no siblings.

Campbell is next due in court September 4 to set a preliminary hearing date. After the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide whether there's enough evidence for Campbell to stand trial on the 34 counts.

Also Tuesday afternoon, the family of Alice Gruppioni, an Italian tourist on her honeymoon who died in Saturday's alleged hit-and-run, released a statement through their attorney, Gregory L. Bentley. The family thanked all those who have expressed their sympathy in the wake of their loss:

"No words can adequately express the grief and sorrow we are feeling as we mourn the loss of a beautiful person, family member and young bride," the statement read. "Thank you all for your concerns as we begin to search for answers."

— Rina Palta

Update 3:34 p.m. Transient Nathan Louis Campbell of Colorado pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Tuesday afternoon on charges of murder and assault for allegedly injuring 16 and killing one with his car on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

This story will be updated with more.

Previously: A transient from Colorado has been charged with murder and assault for allegedly driving his Dodge Avenger down Los Angeles' Venice Beach boardwalk, killing an Italian tourist and injuring 16 others. (The new figure represents an increase over the previous estimate of injured.)

If convicted, Nathan Louis Campbell faces up to life in prison. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors Tuesday said Campbell maneuvered around a vehicle barrier early Saturday evening and plowed into tourists and vendors, killing 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni, who was on her honeymoon.

He is charged with murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run.

— AP

RELATEDVenice Boardwalk: 16 confirmed hit, driver possibly jailed in Colorado (updated)

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