Skip to comments.Cop's killer should die, jury says
Posted on 12/01/2005 10:15:01 AM PST by radar101
Adrian Camacho should be executed for fatally shooting rookie Oceanside police Officer Tony Zeppetella, a Superior Court jury decided yesterday after deliberating for nearly seven hours.
Camacho, 30, of Oceanside showed little reaction upon learning his fate. His hands trembled, and later his head slumped into his chest. Outside the courtroom, three jurors said the brutality of shooting the officer 13 times, followed by Camacho's lack of remorse, persuaded them to recommend the death penalty after convicting him Nov. 14 of first-degree murder.
Judge Joan Weber scheduled a sentencing hearing for Feb. 7, where she will rule on whether to accept the jury's recommendation or reject it and sentence Camacho to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It is rare for a judge to set aside a death verdict.
Camacho, a felon whom authorities described as an illegal immigrant, gang member and small-time drug dealer, was stopped for a traffic violation by Zeppetella in the parking lot of the Navy Federal Credit Union in Oceanside on June 13, 2003.
Knowing the illegal drugs and stolen gun he had in the car would return him to prison, Camacho shot the officer to escape, prosecutor David Rubin argued.
Juror John Fortune of Oceanside said it was the manner in which Zeppetella, 27, was killed that stood out to the jury. Camacho strategically shot around the officer's bullet-proof vest to inflict the maximum amount of damage, Fortune said. He also believed the officer was ambushed as he walked back to his patrol car to review Camacho's paperwork.
Camacho "had no regard for life," Fortune said in an interview outside the courtroom. "He wanted to see this officer suffer."
The jury rejected the argument by Deputy Public Defenders Kathleen Cannon and William Stone that their client suffered from a mental disorder the day of the crime. If Camacho were mentally impaired, he could not have shot the officer, fled in the patrol car and found his way to his mother-in-law's house, the jury found.
The panel also discarded the argument that Camacho's suicide attempt, in which he slit his wrists, was an expression of guilt and regret. If he really wanted to die, he would have killed himself, Fortune said.
Throughout the trial, "(Camacho) had a stern face and showed no emotion," said Fortune, who said the death-penalty trial has brought him sleepless nights. "He's probably feeling sorry for himself at this point in time."
Outside the courthouse, Zeppetella's family thanked the jury for its hard work.
"The loss of our son is more painful than anyone can imagine," said attorney Gregory Emerson, reading a statement on behalf Zeppetella's parents, Tony and Renate. "It helps to know he will be given the most severe punishment possible."
Widow Jamie Zeppetella described the 2½ years it took the case to wind its way through the criminal justice system as an emotional roller coaster filled with peaks and valleys.
She said she will continue the fight to bring all of those responsible for her husband's death to justice, referring to the lawsuit she filed against Second Chance Body Armor Inc., the manufacturer of her husband's bullet-proof vest.
The suit argues that the Michigan-based company knew the vests made of a material called Zylon degraded faster than expected and failed to warn law enforcement officers. Civil lawyers argue Tony Zeppetella may have survived if the vest had worked as designed and stopped two bullets that turned out to be fatal.
"We respect the jury's decision and are grateful they recognized the heinous nature of this crime," Jamie Zeppetella said at a news conference.
She was surrounded by Oceanside police officers, who said the jury made the right call.
"We love Tony and miss him dearly," Jamie Zeppetella said.
When asked how she will explain the crime to her toddler son, Jakob, she answered: "His daddy died doing what he loved to do. He's a hero to our family."
Camacho's family left the courtroom without comment.
"We're disappointed in the verdict," defense attorney Stone said in an interview. "We feel sad for Adrian and his family."
Veteran prosecutor Rubin thanked the Oceanside Police Department for its work on the case.
"A death verdict
From my own personal experience, this judge is a truly incredible + incredibly fair woman & a true practioner of judicial restraint - my guess is that she'll sustain the jury's verdict and sentence Camacho to death.
It should be illegal. The 6th Amendment seems to be pretty clear on the subject. We have the right to a trial by jury, not trial by jury to be overridden on the whims of a single judge.
Hang 'em High!
Protect our borders and coastlines from all foreign invaders!
Support our Minutemen Patriots!
Be Ever Vigilant ~ Bump!
No doubt Vicente Fox will put his 2 cents in and demand clemency for this murderer.
Dont worry about a thing Pancho,er!! Adrian, They have been trying to execute Tookie for 30 years now and the chances are good you will die a natural death before its your turn.
They can move him into Tookies cell, after they finish him off in a few days.
And it will be 25 years before he comes close to having this carried out. And if he writes a children's book or gets some poetry published he might be hailed as a "genius" and come to be regarded as a man worthy of both admiration and emulation. He might even be nominated for a Nobel Prize. Eventually someone will suggest he was framed by racist cops or that it was self-defense. And then some politician whose sole demonstrated ability is that he/she is able to talk others into casting votes in his/her favor will announce, with suitable gravity using sonorous tones indicating deep moral insight, that it is in the best interests of mankind to commute the sentence (perhaps even pardon the man) so that he can shed his light upon the masses and lift them up to higher realms of sweet reason and purity.
In the meantime the officer who laid his life on the line and gave it to serve and protect the law-abiding citizens of his community will be forgotten. In the eyes of some he was never important anyway and in the eyes of a few he was the enemy of all they hold dear. And in the eyes of a small but influential and excessively loud minority his murderer is now and will forever remain a hero.
But nothing for the officer and his family?
It should just read "Killer should die",not "Cop-killer should die".What difference does it make if the victim was a cop?They are no better than the rest of us.I am personally affronted that should I be murdered,the perpetrator would be treated differently(with more lenience) than if I had been a cop.
And as his final day approaches thirty years from now...
Celebrities will gather outside the prison, to hold candle light vigils.
Lobby the governor for clemency, singing his praises.
They will tell the press how this poor misguided young man turned his life around in prison, studied hard to get his GED, and found the cure for AIDS (abstainging from sex & needle sharing, until no carriers were left...) and so has been nominated for both the Nobel Peace & Medicine Prizes...
Why is it not "cruel and unusual punishment" of the public to keep these pukes alive on the public dime for decades, instead of carrying out the sentence in a timely manner?
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
These police officer murders by illegal aliens break my heart. Some scum of the earth, bottom feeder criminal who broke into our country, taking the life of one of our finest and bravest, makes me want to vomit.
Me too, BQ. It's absolutely awful.
Illegals, just doing the jobs Americans won't do.
Should have taken about seven minutes.
Or 5 even
This is so sick and wrong.
Mexico wants its criminal citizens to live in our country, but when they commit murders of police officers (and others), the illegal aliens leave for Mexico, which protects them from paying for their murders.
Makes one wonder how and why the illegal aliens get away with so much. And apparently with so little real concern about being brought to justice.
I'm guessing the jury should have brought rope and been tying a noose by the time closing argument began so they could hand it to the judge with the guilty verdict.
Me either.But it's not as though the risk first becomes apparent on the street.The risk factor should be apparent before the guy enters the academy.Police work is dangerous work.Don't take a job and then cry that it's dangerous.Police are paid to keep peace in the community,not to protect themselves.If they want safer work,they can become librarians.And if murdered as a librarian,the killer should get the same treatment as though he had killed a cop.I just can't help feeling that this is government looking out for it's own,rather than the people they are paid to protect.