'It takes a big man to kill a defenseless woman' prosecutor say - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

'It takes a big man to kill a defenseless woman' prosecutor says in Nichols closing arguments


Day three in the trial of an East Texas dentist charged with the murder of his wife began Wednesday morning.

Nichols is on trial for the shooting death of his wife Rosalind in June of 2012.

The prosecution rested their case last Thursday. The defense will begin to present their case this morning.

KLTV's Melanie Torre is once again in the courtroom and will bring you live updates posted below:



Jury hears closing arguments
5:10 p.m.

The jury is allowed back in the courtroom.

Judge Russell reads the charge to the jury, explaining exactly what they are to find Nichols either guilty or not guilty of.

The State begins their closing argument by thanking the jury for their service. Assistant District Attorney Jason Parrish starts explaining that the jury must be unanimous in their decision but they don't all have to get to their decision the same way. Parrish explains, if some people believe Nichols is guilty because he wanted to kill Rosalind and the rest of the jury thinks Nichols is guilty because he wanted to hurt Rosalind, they still all agree he is guilty and have a unanimous verdict.

Parrish tells the jury that today is Rosalind's day. "It's a Mother's Day. It's a Grandmother's Day," Parrish says.

He tells the jury Rosalind was brutally murdered at age 71 in her own home, where she raised her children.

Parrish goes over the 911 call the jury heard on the first day of the trial.

"He said take me to jail, take her to the morgue," Parrish says. He tells the jury Nichols wanted her dead and that's what he did. "His intent was clever from the beginning," Parrish says, "It took her minutes to die. Not a minute. Minutes." He tells the jury Rosalind died her couch, slumped over and bled to death.

Parrish tells the jury that the only time Nichols got choked up in his police interviews was when he talked about Rosalind treating the grandkids better than him.

Parrish tells the jury to find Nichols guilty for Rosalind. To remember her last moments as she was bleeding to death on the couch and give her justice.

Lollar says it's clear there has been a tragedy in this family. Lollar says he'd like to talk about the relationship Nichols had with Rosalind. Lollar tells the jury Nichols couldn't please Rosalind and that they always argued. Lollar tells the jury that Rosalind got mad when he went out with his friends and got mad when he stayed home. Lollar says Rosalind was what people called a controlling personality. Lollar addresses the trip to Italy and how Rosalind resented Nichols for not having the physical stamina to go on all of the tours with her.

Lollar says all of Nichols' character witnesses were respectable men in the community who had great things to say about Nichols' reputation.

Lollar remind the jury of the psychologists who tested Nichols and found he had cognitive impairments.

"All I can tell you is, this is a good man, he killed his wife and he shouldn't have done it," Lollar says.

The State has to have proven that Nichols intended to cause death or he intended to cause serious bodily injury.

You've got the testimony in your hands. Do the appropriate thing with the facts of the case.

Assistant Prosecutor Richard Vance begins making his closing argument.

Vance begins, "The only way to believe what came out of this things mouth," he says pointing at Nichols, "is for you to adopt the mindset of a murderer." Vance tells the jury, "it takes a big man to get up on the stand and criticize his dead wife." He adds, "it takes a big man to kill a defenseless woman."

Defense requests manslaughter charge
4:06 p.m.

Before the jury is allowed back in the courtroom, Lollar inquires about submitting manslaughter as a lesser charge in Nichols' case. The judge says the court is required to look at the intent and just because someone is a poor marksman and kills someone when they say they intended to scare or injure, that doesn't necessarily change the charge from murder.

Lollar argues that Nichols didn't have the intent to kill his wife. Lollar goes over another criminal case that he believes supports his argument that Nichols behavior was only reckless and without intent. Judge Russell says in the case Lollar is using as an example, the high court supported the trial court's decision not to make the murder charge in that scenario a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Lollar continues to make his argument to the judge and then the judge takes a few moments reviewing a case.

Judge Russell says he does not find the case persuasive enough to change his mind. He asks if the state would like him to include the lesser charge of manslaughter. The state says they would object to a charge that is not murder. The Judge says the manslaughter charge will not be granted.

The state asks for 45 minutes to make their closing argument, the defense says they'll need 15 minutes to make their argument.

The judge says the jury has said they're willing to work until about 7pm today.

The Judge will formally read Nichols' charge shortly, then attorneys' arguments will begin.

Forensic investigator finishes testimony, State rests case
3:38 p.m.

Price testifies that Nichols has cognitive impairments that could have been caused by Parkinson's disease, but he can't be sure due to years of alcohol abuse.

Price says Nichols's abilities, including thinking, planning, etc. are higher than average. However, compared to individuals of his age and education, Nichols is impaired.

Price says the ability to tolerate frustration can be affected by brain impairment. Price says he knows by talking to Nichols that he was very frustrated the night of Rosalind's death.

Price says from his conversations with Nichols, he can tell Nichols is a social individual who likes being with and around people.

Price says Nichols told him his friends and family didn't feel welcome in his home and Nichols attributes that to Rosalind.

Price says Nichols described a lot of instances where he didn't feel like he could do anything right. Price says Nichols didn't believe he had Rosalind's respect and that they argued a lot.

Price testifies that Nichols' impairments wouldn't affect his ability to knowingly or willingly killing someone.

The State and Defense rest.

The judge calls a brief recess.

State calls rebuttal witness to discuss his cognitive testing of Nichols
3:10 p.m.

The State calls their first rebuttal witness, Timothy Proctor.

Proctor is a forensic psychologist. He introduces himself to the jury by going over his education and work history. Proctor testifies that he has conducted hundreds of competency evaluations on people.

Proctor explains how he and Dr. Price, another board certified psychologist, performed a series of interviews and tests on Nichols.

Proctor says he did not disagree with McGarrahan's findings of cognitive impairments, but did not attribute them to Parkinson's disease because he felt there were many other possible explanations, like alcohol abuse.

Proctor testifies that someone with cognitive impairment and alcohol abuse can intentionally and knowingly murder someone.

Proctor says when he evaluated Nichols, Nichols told him he hadn't consumed alcohol in three weeks, which was a violation of Nichols' bond.

Proctor says the tests showed Nichols' brain was functioning at a mild impairment level compared to someone else at Nichols' age and with his education.

Proctor says Nichols' intelligence is average.

Proctor says the circumstances around the offense are a major part of what happened. Proctor says Nichols and Rosalind had been sleeping in separate bedrooms and hadn't had an intimate relationship in about 10 years (according to Nichols.) Proctor says the two had a rocky marriage and Nichols had a history of substance abuse.

The State passes the witness.

Lollar begins questioning Proctor. Proctor testifies that he, McGarrahan and Price have worked together in the past and respect each other's work.

Lollar asks if Proctor respects McGarrahan's testimony that Nichols has brain damage. Proctor says Nichols brain has been damaged but not necessarily injured, because it is damage that occurs over time.

Lollar asks Proctor if he would agree with some of McGarrahan's findings. Proctor says he would and he does.

The State calls Dr. Jay Price. Price is a board certified forensic psychologist and neuropsychologist.

Price introduces himself to the jury by going over his educational background.

The defense rests
2:30 p.m.

McGarrahan says Nichols' inability to recall what happened at certain events is not surprising.

The defense passes the witness.

The State asks if someone diagnosed with mild cognitive impairments could intentionally commit an act and not remember it later. McGarrahan says yes.

McGarrahan says Nichols described a history of alcohol abuse for which he had gotten treatment. He also discussed with her using marijuana in his 40s and nitric-oxide while he was in dentistry.

McGarrahan says Nichols had seriously thought about suicide 30-35 years ago and had recent thoughts of suicide, but denied intending to commit suicide.

McGarrahan says testing showed Nichols has a tendency to minimize personal faults because he doesn't want to look bad.

McGarrahan says Nichols has significant cognitive issues but they don't rise to the level of dementia.

McGarrahan says just because someone has all of the physical and mental issues that Nichols has does not mean they cannot intentionally and knowingly murder someone.

The defense rests. Judge calls a five minute recess.

Defense calls expert witness to discuss possible Nichols cognitive impairment
2:14 p.m.

The defense calls another character witness, William Norton. Norton owned Norton Concrete Company for 25 years. He says he and Nichols have been friends for a long time and often hunted together.

Norton testifies that a peaceful person does not kill their wife.

Mr. Noble is the defense's last character witness. Noble testifies that Nichols is a peaceful person and in this case a peaceful person did kill their wife.

The jury is escorted out of the courtroom and Antoinette McGarrahan takes the stand for a hearing outside the presence of the jury.

McGarrahan is an expert witness for the defense. McGarrahan did a neuropsychological evaluation on the effect the Parkinson's disease has on Nichols' thinking, memory, cognitive abilities and impulsivity.

"He's likely to do things without thinking about it first," McGarrahan says.

McGarrahan says she also anticipates testifying about his depressive disorder and alcohol dependence.

McGarrahan says the Parkinson's and cognitive impairment has the most relevance in the guilt innocence portion of the trial.

McGarrahan says the alcohol dependence would cause anything that showed up in Nichols' cognitive testing worse.

The state does not want McGarrahan testifying in the guilt/innocence phase of the trial because they say her testimony wouldn't be relevant. They say her testimony would be more relevant in the punishment phase of the case. The State says her testimony would take the defense toward an issue of insanity, bringing into question whether Nichols "knowingly and willingly committed the offense."

Judge Russell says he will not keep McGarrahan from testifying at this point, but the questions she is asked must be specific and on topic.

The jury is brought back in.

McGarrahan is a clinical psychologist specializing in forensic and neuropsychology. McGarrahan goes over her extensive educational background in psychology.

McGarrahan says part of what she does is evaluate individuals in the criminal justice system to determine whether they are competent to stand trial, if they were insane at the time of an offense, and what their mental state was at the time of an offense.

McGarrahan testifies that she evaluated Nichols at a psychologists office in October. She says the tests are standard in the field of psychology and take 6-8 hours.

McGarrahan says she made a written report of her findings from testing Nichols.

McGarrahan says Nichols is competent to stand trial. She says she did not evaluate him for insanity.

McGarrahan says one of the tests she performs tells her if the defendant is trying to "dumb down" the results to skew what the tests say. She says Nichols was putting forth an acceptable amount of effort for her to believe the tests were accurate.

McGarrahan says his primary difficulties were with executive functioning and verbal and non-verbal memory. McGarrahan says Nichols had difficulty remembering information and organizing information in his head.

From emotional tests, she found Nichols was feeling depressed, had anxiety and stress related to the incident. McGarrahan says Nichols does not have any personality disorder.

McGarrahan says she noticed a testing tremor in Nichols' right hand. She says the tremor was indicative of Parkinson's. McGarrahan says Nichols had a bit of a hunched back, a shuffling walk, and didn't swing his arms when he walked. McGarrahan says all of this is indicative of Parkinson's disease. McGarrahan says it is chronic and has no cure.

McGarrahan says she believes Nichols suffered from Parkinson's Disease the night of the offense.


State calls Nichols' close family friend, doctor
12:02 p.m. 

The defense calls William Turner to the stand.

Turner says he is  retired from Exxon corporate. Nichols was a close friend and Turner's former dentist. He says Nichols has a good reputation as a truthful, law-abiding citizen.

The State asks Turner if he ever knew about Nichols abusing nitric oxide at the dental clinic. Turner says he did not.

The State calls R.J. Donaldson.

Donaldson was a physician with a specialty in neurological surgery. Donaldson did an operation on Nichols' back and Nichols was his dentist. Donaldson says Nichols has a good reputation for being a peaceful and law-abiding person in the community.

The State asks Donaldson if a peaceful person murders their wife. Donaldson says no. The State asks Donaldson if a peaceful person hits their wife. Donaldson says no.

The State begins to give Donaldson a hypothetical situation in which he and his wife are having an argument, she tells him to leave the house and he goes to get a gun. The defense objects to the questioning and the State passes the witness.

Recess until 1:00 p.m. for lunch.

Nichols' testimony continues
11:46 a.m.

The State begins cross-examination.

The State asks Nichols about a call to his doctor's office asking the doctor to prescribe him a device that would give him an erection. The State asks Nichols if he was hoping to get on with his sex life regardless of his wife being dead. Nichols says, "it had been ten years." The doctor prescribed the device but Nichols says it didn't work. The State replies, "Well, good."

Nichols says he was in a fog leading up to Rosalind's murder. The State asks why he never told detectives in the recorded interviews that the jury has seen, that he had been "in a fog," that night.

Assistant prosecutor Jason Parrish asks why Nichols never told Bobbit, Mothershed or the 911 operator that he has been "in a fog." Nichols says he can't remember.

Nichols says Rosalind liked when Nichols made stroganoff and she liked making chicken fried venison.

Nichols says Rosalind was the best grandmother to her grandkids. He says the worst part was realizing he took RaRa away from the grandkids.

Nichols tells the jury it is his fault that Rosalind's grandkids don't have a grandmother, but he didn't mean to do it.

The State and Nichols begin going over the guns he has, and his hunting and firearm training history. Nichols tells the State what other pistols were in his gun cabinet in the study.

The State asks Nichols what he wants to avoid when shooting a deer.

Nichols says he assumes The State wants him to say what happened to Rosalind. The State asks him to answer the question about the deer. Nichols says you don't want a gut shot because the deer will "smell bad and they'll die slowly."

The State asks how mad Nichols got when they were arguing and Rosalind told her to get out of the house.

Nichols testifies that Rosalind was living in the house she was killed in before he and Rosalind got together because it was her house.

The state brings up an interview from July 2nd, where Nichols referred to a stabbing death as, "a slower deal than mine was."

The state goes over a transcript of an interview with Nichols. Nichols says he told the detective that it was a killing, he killed Rosalind and he never said he didn't. The State asks Nichols why he never told detectives or 911 that he didn't mean to kill Rosalind, just intended to scare her.

Nichols says he knows people get scared when guns get pointed at them. The State asks Nichols if he liked the gun being pointed at him in court Thursday. Nichols says he wasn't alarmed because then gun was zip tied, not loaded and the safety was on.

The State asks Nichols why he didn't get a shotgun or rifle to scare Rosalind instead because those guns were already in the house. The State tells him he picked the 9mm because he knew it could fit in his pocket. Nichols says he wasn't thinking straight during the argument and doesn't know why he got the gun he got.

The State asks Nichols why he can't remember if he hit Rosalind. Nichols says he was in a stupor. The State tells Nichols he never told anyone he was in a stupor until today when he got before the jury.

The State asks Nichols how many times he hit Rosalind to create the bruises on her chest.

Nichols says anyone can do things without knowing that they did it.

The State asks Nichols if he was angry when Rosalind told him she wanted him out of the house. Nichols says he doesn't remember.

Nichols says he did not know where Rosalind was when he came back into the house with the gun.

State: How many times did you see her in the formal living room before you murdered her?

Nichols: I don't recall seeing her there.

State: How many photos did you see of Rosalind dead over the last week?

Nichols: Several. And it was sort of gross. I don't know how you show that kind of stuff.

The State asks Nichols why he didn't cry when he saw the pictures. "You can't spend your whole life crying," Nichols says.

Nichols asks The State if they want him to be a cryer.

The State goes back to Nichols seeking a prescription for the erection device. Nichols says, "I lost my wife and I wondered if I'd ever get to have a lady. It was silly. I was so confused and upset that you probably could have sold me the Empire State Building if I could afford it."

The State asks Nichols if he'd thought about killing Rosalind before. Nichols says no. The State asks Nichols why he said in an interview in June 29 that he'd thought about killing Rosalind in the past. The State also reminds Nichols that David Dial, Rosalind's son-in-law, testified that Nichols said Rosalind made him so mad he could kill her.

Nichols has a few outbursts on the stand telling the prosecutor he is trying to trick him and asking him if this is how The State gets convictions.

The prosecutor asks Nichols to use his finger and show the jury how he shot his wife. Nichols begins to get mad, refuses and asks the prosecutor why he is "being so silly."

Nichols says men say they're going to do stuff like that (kill their wives) all of the time and it doesn't mean a thing.

Nichols says he hates talking about this because it was the worst time of his life. The State says they think the worst time of Rosalind's life was when she died.

Nichols says he wasn't smiling when he realized what he'd done and that he was in mortal pain.

Nichols says he knows he told authorities that he was in a fog during the whole incident.

Nichols: Why do y'all keep badgering me?

State: Well, because you killed your wife.

Nichols: I know I did.

The State asks Nichols what he did after he killed his wife, because he didn't immediately call 911. Nichols says he doesn't know what he did.

Nichols again says he doesn't understand why he is being badgered. Nichols tells the prosecutor he is not being a fair person.

State: Did you point a gun at Rosalind?

Nichols: Does anybody here have to ask that silly question?

State: Did you point a gun at Rosalind!

Nichols: Yes.

"I don't know why you keep asking me the same questions," Nichols says.

The State asks Nichols if he remembers asking 911 to send someone to put him in the jail and Rosalind in the morgue. Nichols says he doesn't remember. The State asks why he didn't ask for someone to take Rosalind to the hospital. Nichols says, because you don't take someone who is dead to the hospital.

"I looked in her eyes and she was dead. That's all there is to it. You're just running stuff into the ground," Nichols says to the prosecutor.

State: Mr. Nichols, you murdered your wife, didn't you?

Nichols: I killed her. I know I did. It's not something I like living with.

Nichols says he hardly wants to live.

The State asks how is it evident that Nichols hardly wants to live if he's still hitting up liquor stores and seeking a vacuum erection device.

The State begins to address the Saturday incident where he purchased liquor in Winona, but the prosecutor is stopped mid-sentence because the jury isn't supposed to know about that right now.

The defense calls John Ellis, a dentist, to the stand. Ellis says Nichols was a good man and dentist. They worked together.

The Defense calls Patsy Tompkins who used to work for Nichols. Tompkins says Nichols was a very nice man and a peaceful law-abiding citizen.

The State asks Tompkins if she'd still think Nichols was a peaceful person if e pointed a gun at her. Tompkins says she would think Nichols wasn't being himself if he did that.

The State asks if she'd still think Nichols was a peaceful person if he shot her.

Tompkins says she imagines she wouldn't think anything because she'd be dead. Tompkins tells the jury she has been to visit Nichols in his house in the last two months. Tompkins says Nichols made her and her sister beef stroganoff.

The defense calls William Turner.

Nichols testifies
10:06 a.m.

Nichols says he went to TJC and studied pre-dental. Nichols says he was admitted to dental school in Houston. Nichols says he went to college for 7 years and became a certified dentist in 1961. He joined the Navy in 1962 as a dentist. He spent two years and two months as a Navy dentist.

Nichols says he established his practice on Beckham in Tyler in the mid 1960s. He says he was a dentist in Tyler for 43 years. Nichols says he had well over 1,000 patients.

Nichols' first wife was Barbara Mills. Scott and Sandra Nichols are his son and daughter. Scott lives in San Antonio.  Sandra is a physical therapist. After seven years of marriage, Nichols and Barbara got divorced. Nichols married another woman named Molly. They were married for 16 years.

Then, in 1985, Nichols married Rosalind. Nichols is asked to state Rosalind's children's names and he struggles trying to remember the names Michelle and Jason. Nichols calls Michelle by the name Lori and Lollar corrects him. Nichols says he's sorry he can't remember a lot of things because he "didn't sleep last night in that cold--" Nichols stops before saying anymore that would tip the jury off that he is in jail.

Nichols explains that Jason died years ago in a car accident.

Nichols and Lollar go over his medical history. Nichols says he has had surgery on his spine, a hip replacement, Parkinson's disease and has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Lollar says he's going to ask Nichols about his relationship with Rosalind.

Lollar asks how Rosalind liked his retirement from dentistry. Nichols laughs, saying Rosalind didn't like his retiring because she didn't want a house husband. Nichols says it hurt him that Rosalind didn't believe he should get to relax after spending so many years working hard to support them.

Nichols says he and Rosalind attended First Christian Church on South Broadway 2-3 times per month. Nichols says Rosalind spent a lot of her time decorating and visiting with her lady friends.

Nichols says Rosalind didn't like "outside interference with [his] friends." He says he had to twist Rosalind's arm to get her to invite his friends to his 75th birthday party. Nichols says he thinks Rosalind was jealous.

Nichols says Rosalind wanted him to get out of the house more. He says she complained about him being "a house husband." Nichols says in the months leading up to Rosalind's death, he wasn't working out much and Rosalind was mad at him for it.

Nichols says despite him getting out of his house on most Fridays to drink with the boys, Rosalind got mad at him. Nichols says he was amazed at how Rosalind got mad at him for staying around the house and then also got mad at him for leaving the house.

Nichols says his children did not feel comfortable in his home with Rosalind. Nichols says he felt like "a less of a person," because he attempted to make them a full family but he never could. Nichols says Rosalind's children and grandchildren came over frequently and that he loved them and misses them now. "They loved their pawpaw," Nichols says.

Nichols says he's not nearly as fit and healthy as he used to be. He says he became depressed during his marriage with Rosalind. Nichols says he was diagnosed as bipolar and prescribed Lithium, but he quit taking the drug because it made his legs go numb. Nichols says Rosalind would frequently call him, "the bipolar man," in arguments  to hurt him. He says he's not proud to tell people that. Nichols says he and Rosalind put on a good face in public as a happy couple.

On November 10, 1998 police were called out to Nichols house because of an argument. Nichols says he could never win an argument with Rosalind because he says her personality was stronger than his. Nichols says there was no physical violence between them.

On April 16, 2000, the police came out to the house again. Nichols says Rosalind had been drinking and Nichols locked himself in his room so she called the police on him. Nichols says there was no physical violence between them.

In the summer of 2012, Nichols went on a TJC Alumni trip to Italy. Nichols says he asked for sleeping pills for the long flight over the ocean. Nichols says he got his prescriptions filled at Kinsey's pharmacy as Rosalind had her prescriptions filled at Major's.

Nichols says he doesn't remember a whole lot about the Italy trip because he "ran out of steam." Nichols says he remembers the trip being a hard trip where he ran out of energy. Nichols says he had to sit in a wheelchair for a few hours at St. Peter's Cathedral because his legs just wouldn't work. He says Rosalind was embarrassed by him and his inadequacy. He says a lady from the cathedral pushed him around in a wheelchair while Rosalind toured with the group. He says Rosalind cared a lot about what people thought of her and she always wanted to look her best.

Nichols says Rosalind would have friends come over and stay the night. Nichols says he'd either go to the farm and spend the night there or just stay in his room. Nichols says those were Rosalind's plans the night she was killed, but her friends had to cancel on her.

Nichols says the maids came to the house every Friday from 10am until noon.

Nichols takes the stand
9:02 a.m.

Judge Russell starts by addressing a few things from where the court left off on Thursday.

He addresses the prosecutor pointing the gun at Nichols during testimony.

"I'm not restricting you all from touching the evidence, but I won't tolerate--it's incredible that anyone trained in firearms would point a gun loaded or unloaded at an individual," he says.

Judge Russell says if you feel the need to make a dramatic reenactment, use your finger.

Lollar tells the judge that he learned Nichols was back in jail through Nichols' son in law on Monday morning.

"I've never seen anything as incredible as what went on Saturday," says Judge Russell.

Judge Russell says the rules were not followed by the State and State's investigators. The judge says he received a text message from an investigator with the State and that he didn't respond because it was improper procedure regarding ex parte. Judge Russell says it was against the rules for the State to contact the him regarding the case without letting the defense attorney know. Lollar says the State never told him Nichols was arrested until Tuesday.

Judge Russell says the State wanted the court to do something in their favor which was incredible. Judge Russell asks the lawyers to write up a briefing of what occurred and turn it in to him because the matter should be forwarded to the State bar for an ethical investigation.

The defense swears in four witnesses and chooses to waive their opening statement.

The jury is brought in.

The defense calls Nichols to the stand.

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