George Nichols Sr.
From Reading Eagle
LANCASTER — 2013-08-21 —A habitual drunken driver will spend up to 30 years in prison for causing a highway crash on New Year’s Eve in 2011 that killed two people and critically injured a third.
At his sentencing hearing Tuesday, George Nichols Sr. deflected blame, saying the victim’s vehicle was “unsafe” and shouldn’t have been on the road that night.
At one point, he poured a cup of water for himself and then raised the cup in a “cheers” gesture toward a relative in the gallery.
“Mr. Nichols still doesn’t get it,” Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson said in court. “The defendant knew from his prior DUIs; he had been warned. Now, the dreadful result has occurred: Two people are dead and a third person committed suicide, essentially as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.”
Killed in the East Cocalico Township crash on Route 272 were Kelly Nagle, a 35-year-old mother of two, and Michael Thavenius, 31.
Nichols, 55, and his passenger, Debra Fort, were seriously injured. Fort, who had obvious physical injuries when she appeared at a hearing last year, died on Nov. 28.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely ordered an 11-to-30-year prison term on charges of vehicular homicide while DUI and aggravated assault while DUI.
It is believed to be the longest sentence in recent memory for a DUI crash here.
Nichols’ blood-alcohol level (0.18 percent) and his history of DUI and drug offenses warranted a sentence beyond the mandatory seven-year term applicable in the case, Knisely said.
“It’s clear to the court that Mr. Nichols learned nothing” from his past crimes, Knisely said in court.
After hearing the sentence, Nichols chatted with his attorney, asking about “issues” with the SUV that Thavenius was driving at the time of the crash.
Earlier in the hearing, Nagle’s survivors berated Nichols, calling him a “killer” and a “drunken monster.”
Mary Nagle, Kelly’s stepmother, asked Knisely for the maximum sentence allowed by law.
“Send a message to all repeat DUI offenders, so maybe they’ll think twice,” Nagle said in statement read by Wilson. “Instead, (Nichols) chose to defy the law and remain a drunken monster.”
Tonya Nixon, Kelly’s stepsister ….MORE