A Pasco man will spend 20 years in prison for holding a gun to a woman's head while his accomplice searched an apartment during an early morning home-invasion robbery
Nikolas Francis Glenn Campbell, 26, was sentenced Friday after a Superior Court judge denied his request for a new trial.
A Benton County jury in February convicted him of first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon, theft of a vehicle and first-degree burglary with the aggravating circumstance because two victims were involved.
Campbell asked for "the court's forgiveness and mercy for my sins," saying there were no excuses for his actions and that he stood before the judge "heavy with remorse."
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"I've come to realize I should not have been involved with people I thought were friends," he said. "... (N)ow my freedom is gone."
While locked up for the past 16 months, Campbell said he has been reflecting on his life and "developed a close relationship with God. However, unlike other inmates, my relationship is real."
He told Judge Robert Swisher that he has accepted God's grace, repented his wrongdoings and asked for God's mercy on his soul.
"Every one of us makes mistakes," Campbell said, noting that he has a "beautiful, loving wife" and daughter and supportive relatives who have all suffered through his incarceration. "I am very sorry for my actions. ... I seriously apologize to the court for my involvement."
Co-defendant Michael Joseph Rice is doing 12 years in prison for his role in the April 6, 2010, crime.
The two men were tried together.
According to police and court documents, Campbell and Rice were visiting friends at a West 14th Avenue apartment overnight when two of them fell asleep. About 4 a.m., the two men went to a neighboring apartment and kicked in the door. They knew the occupant was the aunt of a female acquaintance.
Debra Vargas was sleeping in her bedroom and awoke to find a man, later identified as Rice, standing over her bed holding an 18-inch pipe. He asked for her purse and threatened to hit her if she refused to answer. She said it was on the floor.
Vargas then tried to grab the pipe and wrestle it away from Rice, but at that point Campbell came into the room and brandished a gun, documents said.
Campbell told her to cover her head with a pillow and not look at them, then reportedly placed the barrel of the gun to her head and kept it there while Rice searched the apartment.
Vargas told Kennewick police she heard one of the men say, "Get it started," and assumed they were talking about her vehicle. After Campbell left her bedside, she stayed there for about 10 minutes to make sure they were gone.
Once out of bed, she discovered her attackers had taken two computers, her cell phone, some items from her purse and $603 in cash, and her 1996 Dodge van, documents said. She also found her home phone lines had been cut.
Vargas' adult son also was home at the time but did not wake up because he is hard of hearing.
Campbell and Rice then returned to the apartment of their friends and later drove to Portland, where the van was found two weeks later.
Campbell has 10 felony convictions dating to 2000, including forgery, possession of stolen property, burglary, theft and taking a vehicle without permission.
Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor recommended an exceptional sentence of 26 years by making Campbell serve the terms on each crime back-to-back. He said the lengthy sentence was justified given Campbell's criminal history and the jury's finding.
Lawyer Lee H. Rousso of Seattle called that "clearly excessive" and said Campbell is before the court because he is a drug addict. Campbell never has been a violent person, he said, and should not get a sentence three times as long as his co-defendant when they were equally responsible for the crime.
Rousso, who did not represent Campbell in trial, suggested 12 years and nine months.
"That is substantial punishment, not a slap on the wrist," he said.
Campbell's wife, Cassandra, and a friend also pleaded with the court not to lock him up for the rest of his life.
Swisher acknowledged that Campbell's record does reflect that of a drug addict and none of those crimes appeared to involve direct contact with the victims.
"But this one did," he said, pointing out that Campbell shoved the pistol in the victim's face. "This goes beyond just a crime to feed a drug habit. This was a dangerous offense you participated in, Mr. Campbell. Dangerous in the fact that it was direct contact with the victim and dangerous in that two weapons were involved, one a rod and the other a pistol."
Campbell has a month to file a notice of intent to appeal his conviction and sentence.