Eye Gouger May Serve on Texas Jury

A legally insane Houston man who gouged his girlfriend's eyes with a steak knife has received a jury summons and might be able to serve, but lawyers say it's doubtful he'll be picked for a panel.

Nathan Dale Campbell (search) was first summoned to report for Harris County jury service Monday, but the date was then rescheduled to Aug. 30, said a staffer in the district clerk's office.

Campbell, 30, was acquitted in 1997 after a jury found he was legally insane when he attacked girlfriend Kristen West the previous year, blinding her in one eye and permanently damaging her sight in the other. Campbell received treatment as an inpatient at the Kerrville State Hospital (search).

The attack followed West's refusal of Campbell's marriage proposal. He said he thought her eyes were demons.

State District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin in June 2003 ordered Campbell released from the state hospital in Kerrville after doctors said he was ready to live in the community under supervision.

Campbell was treated as an outpatient in San Antonio for a time after his release, but court personnel have not revealed his whereabouts since then, citing federal privacy law.

Driver's license and voter records list him at his mother's address in northwest Houston.

Although the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (search) lists insanity as an "absolute disqualification" for jury service, it also adds the statement that "both parties may consent."

A 1952 court ruling holds that an insane person may not serve on a jury even if the state and defendant agree otherwise, attorney Susan Crump, a professor at South Texas College of Law (search), told the Houston Chronicle in Friday's editions.

Jim Leitner, Campbell's lawyer, said his client is legally qualified to serve if he wants to, but that his selection was unlikely. Leitner said Stricklin's finding of insanity applies only to the time when the offense occurred, and doctors have since determined Campbell is well enough to live outside an institution.