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Man convicted of 1-punch death in Las Vegas sees parole board

Two mothers pleaded with a parole board Monday on behalf of their sons: one, a father of five who died after a sucker punch in 2017; the other, the man who threw the punch that killed him.

James Beach, 30, is up for parole on May 5 after he was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the death of 45-year-old Luis Campos after he punched Campos without provocation outside a Fremont Street nightclub.

The last time Joyce Garibay saw her son’s killer, he was glaring at her across the courtroom during his trial.

“Each time, Beach had no remorse whatsoever,” Garibay told the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners during his Monday hearing. “That arrogant, angry demeanor staring at me as if I murdered his innocent son.”

Beach showed a different face during the hearing, appearing via video from the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs. As Campos’ family spoke, Beach hung his head and wiped away tears.

Parole commissioners Sandra Thomas and Michael Keeler asked Beach to recount the April 30, 2017, attack. He began crying when he ended the story with Luis Campos’ death.

“I never, ever wanted that man to die. I didn’t know a punch could do that,” Beach told the board, choking back tears. “I struggle with it every day.”

Keeler was concerned about Beach’s criminal history and a pattern of violence. He pointed out that there’s a difference between behaving well in an institution and behaving well in the community.

In 2008, Beach was sentenced to prison after he shot Long Chau, now 30, seven times in the torso. Chau spent four months in the hospital.

Beach was released in 2014 after serving five years in prison.

“People make mistakes, but we own up to our mistakes and we can make a change,” Chau told the board on Monday. “But what did he do with his second chance?”

Beach told the board that during his latest stint in prison, he earned a GED and took anger-management classes. He said he threw himself into the program because he wanted to change and become a role model for his young son and stepdaughter.

“I do want to be allowed back in the community, and I do want people to feel safe around me,” Beach said. “I got kids, and I don’t want them to think that I’m a bad person.”

Beach’s mother, Cathy Garcia, told the board that she’d seen the change herself. She said that their family was ready to step up and support Beach to make sure it sticks.

“I’ve never seen James work the program as much as he has now,” Garcia told the board. “I’ve never seen him emotionally break down. For that to happen to him, something’s, you know, breaking through to him.”

She was the only one to speak on his behalf but told the board that she asked the rest of his supporters not to attend.

“I just want you to hear the good things about him,” she said, “because he is good. He’s a good person.”

Campos’ family said they did not believe that Beach was capable of changing for the better, based on his past actions. Chau and several others said they feared for the safety of the community should he be released.

Several family members called Beach an “animal.” Campos’ son, Luis Campos Jr, compared him to a dog that should be kept in a kennel.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Garibay told Beach, “you don’t deserve a son since you murdered mine.”

The parole board will consider Beach’s case for the next few weeks before announcing a decision.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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