Former Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy Michael Campbell has been sentenced for the motorcycle accident that killed 30-year-old Cara Banducci.
“My life is shattered beyond reason,” said the victim’s mother Carol Banducci, during an emotional testimony in the courtroom Tuesday afternoon. “Her life was ripped from her because she was friendly and trusting.”
The crash in question happened on a rainy Wednesday night in March of 2012. Investigating officers say Banducci left the “Barfly” pub on Waterfront Drive in Eureka on the back of Campbell’s motorcycle. Family, friends and attorneys testify that Banducci was an acquaintance of Campbell from her 10 years of employment with Humboldt County, while he worked in law enforcement.
A blood alcohol test showed that Campbell’s level of intoxication when he drove off with Banducci on the back of his bike was .17, over twice the legal limit. After a short ride, the bike crashed, ultimately killing Banducci, after she was flown to a Sacramento area hospital for her injuries.
“Cara didn’t know he was intoxicated,” recalled friend Julia Blanc while in court Tuesday, she was with Banducci at the Barfly the night of the accident. Campbell was arrested after surviving the crash. He was charged with second-degree murder, a charge that was changed to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after a plea deal was reached in June.
An attorney representing the victim’s family asked for state prison time for the defendant.
Michael Campbell was sentenced to one year in the Humboldt County jail to start August 31, and 6 years of supervised probation.
“He has in essence lived a crime free life,” reflected Judge Bruce Watson before the sentencing. Watson also suspended Campbell’s driving privileges, while stipulating 100 hours of community service to be performed for each year of probation. Campbell must also abstain from alcohol or drugs, and not enter bars or liquor stores. He will submit to chemical testing per his probation officer. Campbell will also pay more than $14,000 in restitution to Cara Banducci’s family.
“Part of me feels like it has died along with Cara,” Cara’s father Gary Banducci shared with the court. “It’s a struggle every day. I’d do anything to have her back, I’d give my own life.”