Tacoma — After spending decades in prison for killing two women in the late 1980s in Tacoma, plus a few short stints behind bars in the 2010s for drug charges, a convicted murderer is headed back to prison following an undercover narcotics investigation by Lakewood police.
Nick Lynn Campas, 64, pleaded guilty last week in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Judge Stanley Rumbaugh sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
In 1988, Campas was sentenced to about 26 years in prison for stabbing a woman to death in Tacoma. A little more than 14 years into his prison term, DNA technology helped tie him to another murder of a woman at a South End home that occurred in 1987, according to archive stories from The News Tribune. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than nine years.
Campas was incarcerated until July 2010, deputy prosecuting attorney Dru Swaim said in an email to The News Tribune.
Given those convictions, Campas would have been facing a sentence in his latest case of life in prison without parole under the state’s three strike law had he been convicted at trial of his original charges.
Instead, the prosecution and defense recommended the 12-year sentence as part of a plea deal. In an email, Swaim wrote that the defendant’s attorney informed the court that Campas has significant health issues, which was confirmed by the man’s medical records and hospitalizations pending trial.
“Given his advanced age and medical condition, a twelve-year sentence is appropriate to address his criminal behavior and protect public safety,” Swaim said.
In a brief phone call, Campas’ public defense attorney declined to elaborate on her client’s health complications.
According to charging documents, Campas was arrested in June 2019 after a confidential informant working with Lakewood Police Department told them about a man who sold heroin. The informant arranged to buy drugs from him, and police arrested Campas in a car shortly after.
The informant said they’d bought drugs from Campas before and that he’d been seen with a firearm. According to the probable cause document, police obtained a search warrant for Campas’ car and found a loaded .22-caliber handgun, a digital scale and a baggie containing methamphetamine.
Campas told police he’d bought the car a couple of weeks ago from a gun collector, and he said there could be a firearm inside. The defendant denied selling drugs but said he’d sold them in the past, records say.
Money was also found in the car, which officers identified as cash they provided to their informant to make the buy. Campas told officers they were casino winnings.