Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

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mrblisterdundee
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Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by mrblisterdundee » May 12th, 2017, 12:17 pm

Steven Nichols, who was accused of pushing his girlfriend Rhonda Casto off a cliff on the Eagle Creek Trail eight years ago, pleaded guilty this week to criminally negligent homicide and coercion, according to The Oregonian:
State prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Steven P. Nichols this week in a plea deal. Nichols, 42, was placed on three years of probation with credit for the year and seven months he already served in jail awaiting trial.
Rhonda Casto, 23, of Portland, the mother of the couple's then-infant daughter, died when she fell during a hike with Nichols on March 16, 2009.
Nichols' lawyer, Mike Arnold, had aggressively challenged the murder case, successfully pointing out flaws – from the destruction of evidence by an investigator to an unconstitutional three-hour police interview of Nichols after Nichols was arrested on a warrant in 2015.
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-north ... most-read_

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drm
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by drm » May 15th, 2017, 7:16 am

It seemed like they never really had any solid evidence on him, just a bunch of suspicions. Increasing the value of a life insurance policy is suspicious but not solid evidence. And not sure somebody planning a murder would do something so obvious.

squidvicious
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by squidvicious » May 15th, 2017, 9:08 am

I remember seeing this on 48 Hours. As I recall it was all pretty circumstantial evidence, but more than just the life insurance. I think this is the one where she'd told people that if anything happened to her, it would mean he killed her.

But what I really remember from that show is the interviewer asking him, "But, if it was raining, why on earth did you decide to go hiking?"

Suspicious!

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retired jerry
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by retired jerry » May 15th, 2017, 11:14 am

that's funny

we wouldn't do much hiking here if we avoided rain :)

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BigBear
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by BigBear » May 18th, 2017, 12:07 pm

I saw the same news story (48 Hours or Dateline, can't remember which one), and the "investigators" portrayed Hood River Sheriff's Office in a very unfavorable light, with the news story asserting that no crime had been committed.

Interesting that this is where the case is today. I guess there is a message here for potential jurors: don't let the media try the case ahead of the trial.

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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by squidvicious » May 18th, 2017, 3:08 pm

BigBear wrote:I guess there is a message here for potential jurors: don't let the media try the case ahead of the trial.
Bear in mind, he didn't plead guilty to murder. He took a deal for criminally negligent homicide, for which he got probation with credit for time served. It's not much more than saying, "She fell, but it was my fault because I had the terrible, unsafe idea to make her go hiking in the rain. My bad."

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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by Lurch » May 18th, 2017, 6:04 pm

squidvicious wrote:
BigBear wrote:I guess there is a message here for potential jurors: don't let the media try the case ahead of the trial.
Bear in mind, he didn't plead guilty to murder. He took a deal for criminally negligent homicide, for which he got probation with credit for time served. It's not much more than saying, "She fell, but it was my fault because I had the terrible, unsafe idea to make her go hiking in the rain. My bad."
Kind of right? He is a felon now, and has everything that goes along with it. I think it's asinine that a B felony that resulted in a death earns him a whopping 3 years of probation though...

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Bosterson
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by Bosterson » May 18th, 2017, 6:44 pm

Wait, so Lurch, are you saying that in your opinion as a Rescue Professional, it's unsafe to go hiking in the rain - and that putting yourself at risk by hiking in the rain risks the lives of other Rescue Professionals, not to mention the huge waste of taxpayer dollars, and that all the selfish, unprepared people who hike in the rain should have to pay the cost of hiking in the rain, because that will teach them a lesson, because everyone knows hiking in the rain is dangerous and why should the rest of us have to pay for them being stupid when it was obvious that doing something as foolish as hiking in the rain could only lead to trouble? Because if that's what you're saying, about hiking in the rain of course, I think that's been the party line over at the Oregonian comments section for the past 5-10 years. :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by Lurch » May 18th, 2017, 8:50 pm

Hah!

Nope, that's not my comment at all..

My comment would be that a B Felony, shouldn't have probation as it's only penalty. By statute, a B felony can go up to 10 years in prison.

Other examples of B felonies in Oregon
  • Abuse of a corpse
  • Assault II
  • Dealing in Child Porn
  • Escape I
  • Hit & Run w/ Serious Injuries
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape II
Those aren't minor crimes.. They screwed it up their case with destruction of evidence, and mishandling the investigation from the sounds of things, but either way, a guilty plea on Coercion (C Felony) and Criminally negligent homicide (B Felon) that results in probation only? That's just wrong.

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drm
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Re: Accused Eagle Creek murderer pleads guilty

Post by drm » May 22nd, 2017, 12:31 pm

Well, we don't know what discussions went into the negotiations for the plea deal. My wild guess is that the defendant was insistent that he not spend any more time in jail, and the prosecutors made up for that by putting a more serious crime in there.

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