The Brighton man who officials said crashed his fiery truck into a Lafayette house in an effort to kill both himself and his ex-girlfriend in May 2019 was sentenced Wednesday to 16 years in prison.
After initially pleading not guilty to charges in November, Mark Austin Campbell, 29, pleaded guilty June 26 to criminal attempt to commit first-degree assault and first-degree burglary, both acts of domestic violence.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Anne Kelly told Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill at the sentencing hearing that Campbell was angry his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t answer his calls, and on May 26 loaded the bed of his truck with firewood, doused it and himself with gasoline and drove it into the house she was living in repeatedly.
While firefighters tried to douse the blaze that night, police were talking to Campbell, who was inside the truck and refused to come out, according to the arrest affidavit. Police said Campbell appeared to be trying to goad the officers into shooting him and pulled a knife that he used to try to cut himself. An officer with a non-lethal pepper bag shotgun broke the truck window and began firing at Campbell, who then dropped the knife and left the truck.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to the home, and three people inside were able to safely evacuate through the back door. Mulvahill said the fact that no one was injured was a miracle.
Campbell told police he had only been trying to contact his former girlfriend because she owed him money and did admit to lighting his truck on fire, but said backing into the house was an accident and that he never intended to hurt anybody but himself.
Campbell spoke at the sentencing hearing, stating he was taking responsibility and apologized to all involved that night.
“I was deep in the hold of a meth addiction leading up to this. I felt paranoia, loss of self worth … Life became a series of betrayals,” he said. “My plan was to show the world my pain. I know I’m incredibly thankful to be here today.”
Campbell told Mulvahill he promised to make the best of whatever sentence he was given.
Mulvahill said he concluded that Campbell was under significant drug use and had a mental health condition, which helped explain the crime, but it did not excuse it. He acknowledged Campbell pleaded guilty to significant charges, but noted he didn’t accept the responsibility of intending to kill the victim.
“The victims are lucky to be alive. The picture of the house says it all. This case illustrates how dangerous domestic violence can be and why these cases are a priority for this office,” District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a news release.
“Lafayette Police and Fire are to be commended for their outstanding efforts and their courage in responding to the perilous, and potentially deadly, situation that the defendant created. I am grateful for Senior Deputy DA Anne Kelly, who specializes in domestic violence cases, for her tireless efforts on this case and others.”
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