A 23-year-old Arlington man was convicted of attempted capital murder yesterday in the September shooting of a Wells Fargo armored truck guard. The Arlington Circuit Court jury recommended that Carlos A. Campos of 1676 N. 21st St. be sentenced to life in prison.

The central issue in the two-day trial was whether Campos or Jose S. Urrutia, a 25-year-old Philadelphia man, shot the guard in the chest at point-blank range in the Lyon Village Shopping Center Sept. 5.

Urrutia was convicted May 6 of malicious wounding in the incident; the jury recommended he serve 13 years in prison.

The guard, Charles O. Scruggs, testified that Urrutia was the man who was facing him, a .45-caliber automatic pistol in his hand, as he stepped from the truck to deliver $40,000 to the United Savings and Loan Bank at 3141 Lee Hwy. But several other witnesses said it was the stockier, shorter Campos who ran from the scene with a gun and money bag in his hands.

Prosecutor Liam O'Grady told the jury in closing arguments that those witnesses were more reliable observers than Scruggs, who only glimpsed his assailant for seconds before losing consciousness.

"As soon as I stepped out of the truck, there was a man standing there with his gun pointing at me, and then I was shot," Scruggs testified. "I wasn't conscious at all. From the moment of impact, I don't remember anything."

"What this case boils down to is who had the best opportunity to see what happened," O'Grady told the jury.

Asked by his attorney, Domingo Ordoveza, if he shot Scruggs, Campos replied, "I did not . . . the man himself is saying that Urrutia shot him. What else do they need?"

Two weeks ago, Campos tried to flee an Arlington General District courtroom minutes before a preliminary hearing on an unrelated armed robbery charge. An assistant prosecutor thwarted the escape by tackling Campos in the corridor. That case was continued until later this month.

Campos was convicted Dec. 20 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria of bank robbery, use of a firearm and interstate transportation of stolen property in the September incident and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Circuit Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick, who under Virginia law may lower the jury's sentence but not raise it, set sentencing on yesterday's conviction for July 11. If sentenced to life, Campos would have to serve 14 1/2 years before becoming eligible for parole, O'Grady said.