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An attorney for the Bluffdale man paralyzed in a neighborhood watch shooting told an appeals court panel on Monday that he had an ineffective lawyer and was unfairly sentenced to consecutive prison terms in a separate case in which he was convicted for having sex with a teenage girl.
The attorney for David Serbeck, 42, is asking the Utah Court of Appeals to overturn his 2012 conviction on three counts of having sex with a 17-year-old girl, who had begun visiting Serbeck's home in 2007 to see his collection of pet snakes. Attorney Nathalie Skibine also asked the court to either reduce Serbeck's consecutive prison terms on two of the charges to run concurrently, or to order a new sentencing hearing.
Serbeck was convicted by a jury in March of 2012 after a 21-year-old woman came forward with allegations that he had sex with her when she was 17. She claimed to have acted after seeing news reports that Serbeck had been shot and paralyzed while on a neighborhood watch patrol in July of 2009 and that she believed he may have been stalking another girl that day.
Reginald Campos, 48, was convicted of the shooting that occurred after his teenage daughter told him she had been followed in their neighborhood by someone in an SUV. Campos, an accountant who also was a neighborhood watch advocate, found the SUV in the neighborhood and shot Serbeck when he stepped out of the vehicle.
Skibine told a panel of the Utah Court of Appeals that Serbeck's attorney should have been more aggressive in either arguing for the exclusion of, or refuting allegations from, the victim known in court records only by the initials S.G.
Skibine cited a case that called child sexual abuse "the most prejudicial accusation."
But Justice Gregory Orme said it should still have been clear to the jury in the sex case that Serbeck had not been stalking Campos' daughter.
And Assistant Attorney General Jeff Gray also said, "The prosecutor at no point used this evidence to suggest that the defendant had this propensity to molest or have sexual relations with underage girls."
The court took the case under advisement with a ruling pending.
Serbeck, convicted of three counts of third-degree felony unlawful sexual activity with a minor, was sentenced to spend up to 10 years in prison. His next parole board hearing is scheduled for September.
Campos was convicted of first-degree felony attempted murder for shooting Serbeck and third-degree felony aggravated assault for pointing his gun at the other man in the SUV. Campos was sentenced to up to life in prison on the attempted murder count and to zero to five years on the assault count.
Campos appealed and in August 2013, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed his attempted murder conviction, saying his trial lawyers' failure to object to an inaccurately worded verdict form shifted the burden of proof onto Campos.
To resolve his case after the appeals court decision, Campos pleaded guilty in April 2014 to second-degree felony discharge of a firearm and a judge immediately sentenced him to 1 to 15 years in prison, but suspended the sentence.
With only the aggravated assault charge remaining at that point, the parole board ordered Campos released on July 22, 2014.