MEDFORD, Oregon — A judge sentenced a southern Oregon man to at least 25 years in prison for the death of a former jewelry salesman but not before the victim's son stunned the courtroom by expressing forgiveness.
Othon Robert Campos, 43, pleaded guilty last fall to charges of murder, robbery and burglary. Friends and family of Frank Damiano wept Friday as District Attorney Beth Heckert described how Campos and an alleged accomplice, on Oct. 7, 2013, tied up the 62-year-old Ashland man before fatally stabbing him and fleeing with his jewelry.
The Mail Tribune newspaper reports (http://is.gd/H3APgO ) that the courtroom went silent as the victim's son, Adam Damiano, told Campos: "I forgive you."
Campos looked down.
"Look at me, Mr. Campos," Damiano demanded.
The man slowly raised his head and peered into the eyes of the victim's son. "I forgive you because that's what my dad would want me to do," Damiano said.
Damiano told Campos he felt sorry for him, having seen Facebook pictures of the son he would leave behind while in prison. "I hope the best for you," Damiano said. "I forgive you with all my heart."
Linda Kennedy, Damiano's ex-wife, told the court about the man she had fallen in love with on her first day of college after meeting him in a class. The couple married in 1973, and Linda gave birth to Adam a year later. They were married for 30 years before they divorced as friends.
Frank Damiano later moved to Ashland, where friends say he was active in the town's gay community and choral groups.
"I'm here to stand up for the Frank that I knew, out of love," Kennedy said, adding that she bore no hatred for her ex-husband's killers. "I hope and I pray that if Mr. Campos is ever released, he can start being a benefit to society."
Judge Lorenzo Mejia told Campos that he had never heard remarks in his courtroom like those made by Damiano's family members. Their generosity, he said, gave him hope for humanity.
Campos, who appeared overwhelmed by the emotion in the courtroom, told Mejia he still had trouble wrapping his mind around what he'd done. "I close my eyes and shake my head at the sheer senselessness of it all," he said.
Mejia sentenced Campos to life in prison with a chance for parole after 25 years.
Campos' alleged accomplice, Merlin Edward Bound III, is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/