A Minneapolis man convicted on charges of vehicular homicide in the death of a St. Thomas University student has been sentenced to more than four years in jail today, April 5.
Michael Campbell, who resided part-time with his parents in St. Michael, was sentenced to 52 months in prison for a crash that killed Ria Patel, a fellow St. Thomas student from Eden Prairie, in the early morning hours of Sept. 17, 2017.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office was hoping for a sentence of 57 months, the maximum according to state guidelines. Defense attorneys, who said Patel was complicit in the accident for kissing Campbell while he was driving, were asking for probation after Campbell was convicted by a jury last month.
“You left Miss Patel dead or dying,” said Judge Fred Karasov after victim impact statements prior to the sentencing. “I know you were distraught, too, but that doesn’t excuse you for leaving the scene. You never came forward. Ever.”
Campbell, prosecutors said, had a series of run-ins with the law, including a prior hit-and-run accident. He did receive probation in that case, along with community service, which Hennepin County said he never completed. Campbell also has drug and alcohol convictions on his extensive record.
On the morning of the Sept. 17, according to criminal records, Campbell was driving a Ford sedan at high speeds near the intersection of Stinson Boulevard and Ridgeway Parkway, near Interstate 35 W in Minneapolis. Campbell lost control of the vehicle at the intersection and slammed the sedan into a traffic light support pole.
After the accident, according to the complaint, Campbell fled, running to a nearby McDonald’s. He returned to the vehicle to grab something, but told a witness to call 911 after seeing Patel was unresponsive. He then ran off, leaving a dying or dead Patel in the car.
First responders arrived after the witness phoned in the accident and attempted life-saving measures on the 21-year-old woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police went to Campbell’s Minneapolis house, but roommates said they had not seen him leave, stating that he was “super drunk” earlier in the morning. However, the judge did not factor Driving Under the Influence into the sentence, because Campbell was not found until two days after the accident and, clearly, hadn’t been tested in time.
Campbell ordered an Uber ride to his family’s home in St. Michael, where he stayed for two days. Defense attorneys at Thursday’s sentencing said the man attempted suicide three times, including in the St. Michael home’s garage, where he was discovered by Wright County deputies and other authorities and arrested in a car locked in the unit.
“He has not shown remorse,” a family member said at Thursday’s sentencing. “Ever. We are living with a life sentence.”