Wednesday, 29th District Judge Michael Moore sentenced Nathan Luke Nichols, 23, to two 16-year terms in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine of $2,500 on each count.
On April 30, a six-man, six-woman, jury found Nichols guilty of the lesser included charge of manslaughter in the deaths of Carolyn K. Veach and James S. King III on Jan. 3, 2013.
District Attorney Michael Burns had sought a murder conviction in the case.
The DA explained to the jury in his opening remarks at the trial that Nichols’ breakup with his girlfriend started a chain of events that led to the head-on accident that took the lives of Veach and King.
“The defendant didn’t take it well, he was angry and distraught,” Burns said. “He became more and more emotional.”
Nichols was in Stephenville when his girlfriend broke the news. He went to a friend’s house there and eventually left, going to the girlfriend’s house in Santo.
Burns said Nichols’ friend called the girlfriend and told her she should leave the house, which she did. Her parents were in Wisconsin.
“Around 5 p.m. the girlfriend’s sister came home from school,” the DA added. “She saw the defendant’s car at the house, there was nobody home.”
Burns said the defendant did not have consent to enter the home, but had anyway. He added that there was money and pills missing from the home.
“The defendant left the house, driving east on 2201 toward Highway 281, shortly after 5:15, maybe 5:20,” Burns said.
He then explained that another driver was traveling west on FM 2201. In the pickup she was driving was her children.
“She saw a black Mustang coming straight at her in her lane,” he said. “She began flashing her lights, laying on the horn. The Mustang kept coming.”
She slowed her speed to about 20 mph and the Mustang kept coming at her.
“She went into the bar ditch,” he continued. “She looked behind and saw the Mustang had moved to the right.”
The DA said the woman saw another car behind her.
“It (the Mustang) immediately moved to the left,” he added.
In that vehicle were Veach and King.
“Carolyn didn’t move into the bar ditch,” Burns said.
“There were 100 some-odd feet of black marks (from Veach’s car), not a brake light one from the defendant’s vehicle,” he pointed out. “The defendant hit them head on and killed them instantly.”
Burns said Nichols was alert and combative with EMS responders. A helicopter was called to transport Nichols to a Fort Worth hospital.
“This was either a deliberate act or at least a known act.”
Nichols could have received a possible sentence of two to 20 years and a possible fine of up to $10,000 for each count.