An Oregon man is charged with connections to killing his girlfriend, after he threw her off a cliff that measures 100 foot eight years ago, has entered a plea of not guilty as he was a criminally negligent homicide and coercion in her death, according to PEOPLE.
Stephen Wagner Nichols, 42, faced a verdict of carrying a penalty of 19 months for each of the felonies and three years’ of probation. However, he will not spend more time in jail.
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Nichols was accused of killing girlfriend Rhonda Casto,23, as they went hiking along Oregon’s scenic Eagle Creek Trail in March 2009. Authorities allegedly stated he sent her to death after he threw her off a cliff that measures 100 foot in an attempt to get a $1 million life insurance policy.
But Nichols’ defence attorney, Mike Arnold, says his client was “falsely accused,” and he made another plea.
“It was a long time coming,” Arnold tells PEOPLE. “It is an amazing outcome. It is not every day that somebody charged with murder ends up with criminally negligent homicide and a probation sentence.”
The victim’s mother: This is so unfair
“I am kind of numb,” says Casto’s mother, Julia Anne Simmons. “I feel awful. I think he [Nichols] should be in prison.”
Simmons described her late daughter as “very precocious, loud and funny. She was 23 and in the prime of her life. She had everything going for her.”
The mother claims that Nichols got rid of her Casto as she intended to leave him and take their daughter Ava with her.
“She was going to move out,” Simmons says, “but she was trying to get up the courage to do it. She was disillusioned about Steve.”
Nichols has denied attempting to kill his late girlfriend. He informed the police that she fell while hiking and he hiked down to save her. Then he hiked up to the trail, went his way to the parking lot and asked for help.
He got arrested in February 2015 as he arrived at the San Francisco International Airport after he has been to China with his daughter Ava.
Hearing the sentence, Simmons commented, “This is so unfair — this is the justice system being stupid. I am just disgusted with the outcome.”