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Archive for Monday, February 28, 2011

Lawrence man who attacked woman on bicycle path gets 14 years in prison

February 28, 2011

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William Nichols, right, speaks with his attorney Michael Clarke after his sentencing Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. Nichols was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attacking a young woman on a bicycle path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake.

William Nichols, right, speaks with his attorney Michael Clarke after his sentencing Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. Nichols was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attacking a young woman on a bicycle path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake.

Nathaniel Mehl talked with reporters after William Nichols was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, for the attack on a young woman last summer on a path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake. Mehl and his friend interrupted the attack and were about to stop Nichols before he fled.

Nathaniel Mehl talked with reporters after William Nichols was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, for the attack on a young woman last summer on a path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake. Mehl and his friend interrupted the attack and were about to stop Nichols before he fled.

A Douglas County judge on Monday sentenced a 31-year-old Lawrence man to serve nearly 14 years in prison for a June 2010 attack on a woman on a southwest Lawrence bicycle path.

Before handing down the sentence, District Judge Peggy Kittel told William E. Nichols that he committed an unprovoked attack in the middle of the afternoon in a public area.

Nichols had pleaded guilty in January to aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery and aggravated sexual battery in connection with a June 16 incident when a 23-year-old woman was attacked and stabbed on a bike path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake.

“We believe that the aggravated (sentence) in this case is warranted and justified under the conduct by Mr. Nichols,” District Attorney Charles Branson said.

Kittel followed a plea agreement between two parties to order Nichols to serve the harshest sentence he could for the aggravated kidnapping count. She ordered Nichols to concurrently serve lesser sentences for the other two charges. He must register as a sex offender for life.

The woman, who no longer lives in the country, spoke in court and said the event affected her in several ways.

She still experiences physical pain in the facial area, and she’s become scared when she comes upon strangers walking down the street.

“I do not trust anybody who I do not know anymore,” the woman said.

She also thanked two 19-year-old Lawrence men, Aidan Waugh and Nathaniel Mehl, who assisted her and chased away her attacker. Police later arrested Nichols in the area that day.

The woman said she didn’t want to take revenge on Nichols.

“I feel sorry for him, and I hope one day I will be able to pray for him,” she said.

Nichols apologized to the victim.

“You didn’t do anything wrong or do anything that caused me to attack you,” he said. “You were just unlucky and at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

He said he “didn’t understand himself” at the time of the attack and was experiencing many financial and family hardships. Nichols said he didn’t have health insurance and that he tried to seek mental health treatment in Topeka and Lawrence before the incident but was unable to pay for it.

Defense attorney Michael Clarke didn’t ask Kittel to depart from the plea agreement in the case, but he instead made comments in court about the danger of state budget cuts to mental health services.

“I think that should weigh heavily not only on what this court does, but what this community does as well,” he said.

Kittel said the victim in the case still suffered from the effects “of this brutal attack.”

“Unfortunately our prisons are full of people who have mental health issues, and also unfortunately that doesn’t change the effect that this crime had on the victim,” she said.

Mehl and Waugh, who were honored by the city last year for their actions, sat in the audience during the hearing. Mehl said he thought the sentence should have been harsher, but he was still pleased Nichols was given prison time.

He also said he was glad the victim was able to speak in court.

“I thought it was a pretty courageous thing she did,” Mehl said.

Comments

Clark Coan 3 years, 10 months ago

He'll get out in 4-5 years on good behavior. Hopefully, he'll get treatment for his mental illness and not re-offend.

jayhawkca 3 years, 10 months ago

No, at minimum, he will serve 85% of the sentence.

who_said_it 3 years, 10 months ago

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KansasPerson 3 years, 10 months ago

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gtlinthelwr 3 years, 10 months ago

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Bursting 3 years, 10 months ago

Here goes everyone on the good old mental health card... I'm playing the violent rapist card on this man, good riddence, I hope he's never back in Lawrence!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

Yea, it's really a good thing this guy didn't get any intervention that might have prevented him from attacking this woman. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the opportunity to be all righteously indignant. (sarcasm.)

meggers 3 years, 10 months ago

Where? Our state mental institutions are over-capacity as it is.

countrygal07 3 years, 10 months ago

On one of my visits to Lawrence several months ago I was at the ATM withdrawing money and this man approached me asking me for money and a cigarette. He scared me as I have never had anyone approach me at a ATM. He said he was living at the lake and hadnt had any food for several days. I went across the street and asked the gas station attendant to call the police.

frankfussman 3 years, 10 months ago

What? So they could give him a place to sleep and some food?

LoveThsLife 3 years, 10 months ago

She did the right thing frank. As a woman I would have done the same thing, if something doesn't feel right about the situation then it is best to leave.

rousseau108 3 years, 10 months ago

No, so they could cite or arrest him for aggresssive panhandling as it is illegal to approach someone at an ATM and ask for money.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

The figures are probably out of date by now, but several years ago studies showed approximately 20% of prison inmates are mentally ill and only about 60% of them received any mental health care while in prison. That's for the state run prisons. I would think the privately owned and federal prisons would be the same situation and the numbers are probably higher than studies done four to 5 years ago, only because they had increased at that time.

Kris_H 3 years, 10 months ago

"An institution like Menniger?" The Menninger Clinic isn't exactly what you might call an "institution." I'm not sure how they're doing since they left Kansas to partner with Baylor University down in Texas, but when they were here, you weren't going to get in there if you didn't have money and/or insurance. You would have gone to Topeka State Hospital, and oops, that isn't there any more.

There are a couple of places where you might find some short-term treatment, but without money or insurance it's not going to be very long if at all. People with serious, disabling mental illness quickly run out of friends, family, options and luck. Even so, though, most of them don't go attack some random stranger with a knife and try to do the things this guy tried to do. That's criminal, not mental, and should be dealt with as such.

The cutters haven't gotten around to taking away Larned State Security Hospital yet, and maybe that's where this guy will end up. I hope his life turns out better than I fear it will.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

"That's criminal, not mental, and should be dealt with as such."

It's both. Once someone becomes violent, society needs to do what's necessary to protect itself. But letting mental illness fester until someone becomes violent is stupid. It's not something that can be 100% prevented, but we can do much better than we currently are-- and this guy could be a prime example.

And throwing this guy in prison is probably more likely to make him even more mentally ill, (and potentially violent?) and he'll still be relatively young when he gets out.

yankeevet 3 years, 10 months ago

So he will be taken care of for 14 years; cot; and 3 meals a day........oh yay; a tv also....

Marcus DeMond 3 years, 10 months ago

In fifteen years he will be out of prison. Without any rehabilitation he will probably come out worse than he went in. I do believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maybe a little therapy during his time in jail will cost us much less than investigating and prosecuting a more serious crime in 2027.

evilpenguin 3 years, 10 months ago

i love the look on the guys face in the picture. I can just imagine "Durp? Guilty? Durp?" when I look at it

Pitt_Mackeson 3 years, 10 months ago

What a creep. I'm glad my buddies Nathaniel and Aidan were around to rescue this lady. I'd hate to think what would've happened had they not come upon the scene.

Danielle Brunin 3 years, 10 months ago

My husband went to school with this guy and he was messed up years ago. It's a shame that he wasn't able to get help before this poor woman had her life shattered.

Danielle Brunin 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly right. Back then it was clear he had problems, but he certainly didn't seem capable of something like this. Fast forward how ever many years, and his situation is very different. In a strange way, if he had been viewed as being more of a danger than he was, he might not be in this situation because help may have been more readily available. Sad all around.

kernal 3 years, 10 months ago

Since the Topeka State Hospital was shut down by Gov. Graves over ten years ago to save taxpayers money, and in most other states for the same reason, I wonder if a study has ever been done to determine if money was actually saved or if that move has cost us more. Consider the increased number of homeless since those hospitals closed down and the need for more and larger prisons to hold the mentally ill. I have a sneaking suspicion that move cost the taxpayers more money in the long run.

somebodynew 3 years, 10 months ago

And try to get someone in there. First getting the accepted and then actually getting them there. Neither is very close by.

somebodynew 3 years, 10 months ago

No, I am not saying it was open arms. Better than now, but not easy. But there are only so many beds in a facility. When you close one (Topeka) they didn't increase the beds at any of the others. The money was supposed to follow the people into community treatment - yeah, right. It didn't. There are only so many beds available and the courts take a lot of them. Plus they have to be a danger to themselves or others. Sometimes they have to commit a crime to show that. You just can't take "cousin Joe" down there and say he is crazy and let him there.

ajedigecko 3 years, 10 months ago

outsource/ship the "things" to the prisons in third world countries.

ajedigecko 3 years, 10 months ago

i have finally reached a point.....

i do not believe a "thing" needs to kill another human, in order to receive the death penalty.

somedude20 3 years, 10 months ago

I love bacon!!! Just thought you should know

Clark Coan 3 years, 10 months ago

It used to be that an offender could get out on good behavior after serving 1/3 of the sentence. Not sure if the legislature changed that. If not, he could get out in 4-5 years.

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