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Man charged in deadly auto rampage at LA's Venice Beach in court, judge to decide on trial

A man charged in a deadly auto rampage on the Venice Beach boardwalk will be back in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday as a judge decides whether he'll stand trial for murder, assault and hit-and-run.

The preliminary hearing for Nathan Campbell resumes after a delay of nearly a month so tourists who witnessed the Aug. 3 rampage could be returned to Southern California to testify.

The 38-year-old Campbell, a transient from Colorado with a history of petty crime convictions, has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has called it "a horrible accident."

Alice Gruppioni, 32, a newlywed from Bologna, Italy, died on her honeymoon and 16 other people were injured when the black 2008 Dodge Avenger plowed through the Sunday evening crowd.

In the first part of the hearing last month, seven witnesses who were flown in from Indiana, Pennsylvania, England and France described their efforts to protect children and themselves.

They testified that the driver maneuvered around barriers and seemingly aimed at tourists and vendors intentionally as he sped down the famous Southern California tourist spot.

A police officer testified that he walked into a police station in the neighboring city of Santa Monica only two hours after the crash and said he was the one they were looking for and hit those people.

Public defender Philip Dube said Campbell was "profoundly depressed" after the incident and he did not intentionally try to hit anybody.

If convicted, Campbell could face life in prison.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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