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Palm Harbor woman gets nine years in prison for crash that killed friend

LARGO

There were no winners in Courtroom 5 on Monday afternoon.

Not the family of Anthony Steven Campaign, the man who died by the side of a U.S. 19 access road in March 2010.

Not Nicole M. Scholl, the driver who killed him.

Definitely not the children.

Campaign's daughter, 3-year-old Brooklyn, will never get to touch her daddy's face again.

And Scholl's four children will be relegated to letters and prison visits with mommy.

Circuit Judge Thane B. Covert sentenced Scholl, 33, to nine years in prison Monday on a DUI-manslaughter charge for the March 12, 2010, accident that killed her good friend, Campaign. She had pleaded guilty in February.

Authorities said Scholl, of Palm Harbor, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.182, more than twice the limit at which a driver is presumed impaired in Florida, when she lost control of her Plymouth minivan near 23902 U.S. 19 just before 2 a.m.

Campaign, 22, was feeling sick and hanging out the passenger side window when the van went off the road. His head hit a tree, then a pole. He died instantly.

The two had been out drinking together — her with a pending drug possession case just two weeks old, him with a recent arrest on a variety of charges that he collected after a night of drinking.

Campaign, of Clearwater, struggled with alcohol addiction but had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, said his mother, 45-year-old Jodi Daeder of Amityville, N.Y.

She lost her only child that morning.

"I feel like I can't breathe," she said before she addressed Covert.

She told him she didn't hate Scholl. She didn't suggest a sentence. But she begged him to take away Scholl's driver's license forever.

And she told the story. She tells everyone.

It's about when Campaign was a little boy, about 10 years old, and he saw a homeless man on a doorway stoop in a freezing snowstorm in New York. He wanted to take the man home. Mom said no. They gave the man some money for hot cocoa and walked away.

Campaign broke away from his mother's hand and ran back. He pulled off his little mittens and gave them to the man.

"That story epitomizes the heart he had," Daeder said.

Scholl read from a long letter in which she addressed Daeder and Campaign's grandmother and told them that she knew how much Campaign loved them. She spoke lovingly of her friend. She talked about her guilt for killing him, for the children she was leaving behind.

Huddled together, Campaign's family sobbed in the back row. On the other side of the courtroom, members of Scholl's family drew each other closer and wiped away tears.

Scholl apologized and said she knew she deserved to be punished. "I would trade him hating me forever for not picking him up that night," she said.

Covert, who could have sentenced Scholl to at least 12 years in prison, called the case "a tragedy on every front."

He said he took into account a doctor's testimony that Scholl suffered from depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, which contributed to her substance abuse.

But her previous arrest just two weeks before the crash, in which she was pulled over with marijuana and hydrocodone in the car, showed a pattern of irresponsibility, Covert said.

And though Campaign had also been drinking that night, he wasn't the one who got behind the wheel, Covert said.

He sentenced Scholl to five years on the drug possession charge to run concurrently with the manslaughter sentence, then community control followed by probation.

And he ordered her license revoked for as long as the law would allow.

"As far as I'm concerned you've forfeited that right forever," he said.

Palm Harbor woman gets nine years in prison for crash that killed friend 05/23/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 12:18am]

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