Tito F. Campbell's actions on April 18 -- fleeing police while driving drunk with his 10-year-old son in the car and ultimately slamming into another vehicle and killing Choua Vang -- took a wife away from her husband, a mother away from her six children.
Those actions also took Campbell away from his own three children and his family members, more than a dozen of whom came to support him at his sentencing hearing Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court.
Campbell, 33, was sentenced by District Judge John Guthmann to a total of 20 1/2 years. He is required to serve two-thirds of that in prison and one-third on supervised release.
"I just want to repeat my apologies. I ask the Vang/Xiong family if they can find it in their hearts, not today, but someday, to forgive me," Campbell said. "If I honestly could take the place of Mrs. Vang, I would."
Campbell, of Crystal, was convicted by a jury in November of three felonies and three gross misdemeanors: fleeing police resulting in death; criminal vehicular homicide; first-degree drunken driving; criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm; child endangerment and driving after license cancellation.
According to trial testimony, Campbell and his ex-girlfriend got into a heated argument at her apartment. He put his son in the ex-girlfriend's car and sped away. Although police tried to stop him, he drove down Hwy. 36, then Interstate 35E, at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. He sped through a red light at the top of the Larpenteur Avenue exit and smashed into a car driven by Zong Xiong of St. Paul. Xiong was injured; Vang, who was in the passenger seat, was killed.
The Xiong/Vang family was in court Tuesday but did not speak. They had written to the judge expressing their grief and loss, prosecutor Sarah Cory said.
Campbell's mother, Gertie Robinson, spoke on his behalf.
"Tito is a very decent man," she said. "If alcohol wasn't involved I know we wouldn't be here today. I just want the court to know Tito is very much loved. If there's anything we can do to ease the burden of the Vangs, we're more than willing to do it."
Guthmann ordered Campbell to pay $30,457.46 in restitution. Of that, $6,500 will go to the Crime Victims Reparation Board, the rest to the Xiong/Vang family for funeral expenses.
Two others sentenced
David Scott Nelson Jr., who escaped from the Ramsey County workhouse in September while awaiting sentencing on two earlier drug and burglary convictions was sentenced by Guthmann on Tuesday to a year and a day for the escape and a year and a day for fleeing police. Those sentences, to be served concurrently, will be served after he finishes a 14 1/2-year sentence on the earlier charges.
Cary Dorsey, 18, was given concurrent 15-month sentences by Guthmann for assaulting a St. Paul police officer and fleeing police in September. Those will be served at the same time as a 39-month sentence he is serving for a burglary in Dakota County. Dorsey, who is HIV-positive, caused concern when an officer was scratched and came in contact with Dorsey's blood while trying to apprehend him.
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992