Ramsey County District Judge Michael DeCourcy had far more to say in court Wednesday than did Wade Campbell, who was being sentenced for terrorizing his son's Little League coach last summer.
"Do you know the difference between being tough and being a bully?" the judge asked. "A bully uses some kind of intimidation or force against those he perceives to be weaker. ... Tough people face the adversity and deal with it."
Campbell, 47, wearing an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, insisted that the incident had been "blown out of proportion." He has been held since he was found guilty Jan. 25 of making terroristic threats. He won't have to spend any more time in jail, provided he complies with the judge's orders.
The coach, Noe Ambriz, 31, and his wife, Yvonne, did not come to the sentencing.
"They just want it to be over," said prosecutor Mark Hammer.
The case stemmed from a series of incidents that began at a Little League game June 22 at the Parkway field in the Dayton's Bluff area. According to testimony during the trial and court documents, Campbell berated his son after he struck out. He became belligerent with Yvonne Ambriz when she asked him to leave the dugout, and he made racist comments about the coach and his relatives.
A short time later, Campbell returned to the dugout and threatened to punch the opposing coach when he tried to get Campbell out. Over the next two days, a series of incidents unfolded, culminating in an angry phone call to Ambriz at his home.
According to Ambriz's testimony, Campbell threatened to come over and "shoot him down like a dog."
The judge stayed a prison sentence of a year and a day and gave Campbell credit for the 65 days he's already served in jail. The judge put him on probation for up to five years, ordered him to have no contact with the coach's family, abstain from alcohol and participate in mental health counseling.
The judge told Campbell that he'd read the "whole stack of letters" of support that family members and friends had sent on his behalf.
Hammer, the prosecutor, said the letters, along with the jury's verdict, show that Campbell has "an anger management problem" but also "a good heart."
He said the Ambrizes "had no vendetta. They just wanted justice to be done because they were terrified.
"If the defendant takes seriously his anger management issue, we don't expect to see him again. If it's to the contrary, we'll be ready," Hammer said.
DeCourcy told Campbell: "You're a fortunate guy. You've got a wife who thinks a great deal of you, loves you. And you've got a great kid.
"Don't screw it up."
Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551