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Published: Saturday, 7/10/2004

Killer gets life; family says he deserves death

While they knew the death penalty wasn't possible, family members of a woman whose longtime companion stabbed her 16 times thought that was the sentence he deserved.

Instead, James Campos, 42, was given a mandated life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the murder of Guadalupe "Linda" Costilla.

Deb Hacker told Judge James Jensen that she lost her sister and friend when Campos stabbed Ms. Costilla, 40, with two knives in the chest, neck, and face on April 11. He also struck her several times in the head with a hammer.

"We understand that the death penalty isn't an option, but that's the sentence we thought he was deserving of," Ms. Hacker said after the sentencing hearing.

Campos stared down at the defense table, the muscles in his cheek twitching, when Ms. Hacker spoke of her family's grief. He gave a short statement to the judge before sentencing.

"I just want to apologize and say I'm sorry for what I've done," Campos said.

Ms. Hacker said the apology was not accepted.

Guadalupe Costilla, Ms. Costilla's mother of the same name, gave a tearful statement after the hearing, saying Campos "turned our whole world upside down, and our lives won't ever be the same again."

Campos pleaded no contest July 2 to the murder of Ms. Costilla, his companion of 23 years.

J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant county prosecutor, said after the plea was entered that Campos told police he couldn't control himself and began stabbing and beating her.

Ms. Hacker said Campos had threatened to kill her sister before and had abused her. She said she wants to start speaking publicly about domestic violence to help people understand the importance of getting help when there are warning signs.

"This could happen to anybody," she said.

Judge Jensen said he couldn't make any sense of the crime, and only hoped that the sentence of life in prison would encourage those with anger-problems to seek treatment.

"It strikes me that this brutal killing was done by someone with uncontrolled rage," Judge Jensen said.



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