April 05, 2018 06:17 PM
The 21-year-old man found guilty of fleeing the scene of a crash in northeast Minneapolis that killed his 20-year-old girlfriend was sentenced to prison Thursday.
Michael Laurence Campbell was sentenced to just over four years in prison in connection to the crash that killed St. Thomas student Ria Patel.
Campbell was found guilty in March on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
Patel's uncle, Hitesh Patel, told the court that Campbell took from them something that could never be replaced, and that the family has yet to forgive him.
"All he has done is told lies about Ria," Hitesh Patel said. "How could he blame her for the accident? How could he leave her alone there to die? How could he run and not tell the truth?"
Ria Patel's cousin, Raveena Patel, said Ria's parents were in the courtroom, but could not bring themselves to talk about their daughter at that moment. She, too, expressed anger at Campbell's actions.
"Where was he when I tried calling him after he left Ria?" Raveena Patel said. "There is nothing I have to say to him and nothing I want to hear from him. I hope one day I am able to forgive him, but that day will only come when he recognizes his problem and apologizes."
When handing down the maximum sentence allowed under state sentencing guidelines, the judge cited Campbell's criminal history and his "lack of remorse and acceptance of responsibility" as reasons for his decision.
Campbell addressed the court last.
"Your Honor, I will accept whatever punishment you think is appropriate for this accident that ended the beautiful, 20-year life of Ria," Campbell said. "And, lastly, I am so sorry to everyone who knew Ria, especially her family and friends."
Patel was a junior, studying business and economics.
The criminal complaint states police were dispatched to the scene at Stinson Boulevard Northeast and Ridgeway Parkway around 3:51 a.m. on Sept. 17.
There, they found a red Ford Focus facing the northbound lane of Stinson near the exit ramp to westbound Interstate 35W. Officers found Patel alone and motionless in the passenger seat.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The complaint said a witness saw Campbell exit the car and flee. The witness said he later returned to the car and began digging for something in the driver's seat. The witness said Campbell instructed her to call 911, which she had already done.
The complaint said Campbell then fled again on foot.
The complaint goes on to state officers discovered a wallet at the scene containing Campbell's driver's license. They went to his home where they reported meeting with a number of parties. Those parties confirmed Campbell lived there and said they had seen Campbell and Patel sometime before 2 a.m.
One of the people at the residence reportedly told officers Campbell had been "super drunk."
He was located and arrested in Wright County on Sept. 19.
The complaint states that in a post-Miranda interview, Campbell admitted driving and crashing the car, as well as drinking alcohol beforehand.
According to the complaint, he admitted he fled the crash scene because "he was so traumatized by seeing the state of (Patel) after the crash."
Ben Rodgers and Jay Kolls
Updated: April 05, 2018 06:17 PM
Created: April 05, 2018 04:33 PM
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