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Thread: Harold Wayne Nichols - Tennessee Death Row

  1. #1
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    Harold Wayne Nichols - Tennessee Death Row




    Facts of the Crime:

    Nichols was sentenced to death on May 12, 1990 for the January 30, 1988 killing of 21-year-old Karen Pulley. He broke into Pulley's Chattanooga home, raped her, and hit her in the head with a board at least four times. The victim suffered skull fractures and massive brain injuries and died the following day. In addition to the death sentence, Nichols received a 60-year sentence for aggravated rape and a 15-year sentence for first-degree burglary, both in connection with the attack on Pulley.

  2. #2
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On June 1, 2010, Nichols filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/ten...cv00148/57685/

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    Harold Wayne Nichols v. Stanton Heidle, Warden

    In today's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, the court AFFIRMED the district court's denial of Nichols' habeas petition.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    The article

    Inmate loses federal appeal

    A federal appeals court has denied a petition from a death row inmate who claimed mistakes by police, his lawyers and the judge led to his conviction.

    The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati posted its ruling Thursday in the appeal of Harold Wayne Nichols. He was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1988 rape and murder of 21-year-old Karen Elise Pulley of Chattanooga. Nichols— originally from Cleveland, Tenn. — was also convicted in a series of 11 other rapes or attempted rapes in the Chattanooga area.

    The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Nichols in 1994.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/07/25/...#storylink=cpy
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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    Administrator Jan's Avatar
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    On September 5, 2013, the 6th Circuit Court denied rehearing en banc.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.a...es/13-8570.htm

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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On December 1, 2014, the US Supreme Court DENIED Nichols' certiorari petition.

    Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    Case Nos.: (06-6495)
    Decision Date: July 25, 2013
    Rehearing Denied: September 5, 2013

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/search.a...es/13-8570.htm

  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On May 18, 2016, Nichols filed another appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

    https://dockets.justia.com/docket/ci...ts/ca6/16-5665

  8. #8
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    Judge to decide whether to take convicted Chattanooga serial rapist, murderer off death row

    By Zack Peterson
    The Chattanooga Times-Free Press

    A special judge must decide whether to release a convicted serial rapist from death row who was found guilty in a 1988 murder in Chattanooga.

    Harold Wayne Nichols received 60 years for the first-degree felony murder of 21-year-old Karen Pulley, an additional 15 years for aggravated rape, and was sentenced to death in 1990. But a judge at the time incorrectly applied a vague enhancement statute that sent Nichols to death row, his post-conviction defenders argued Wednesday in Hamilton County.

    And because of a United States Supreme Court decision from 2015 that's since changed those statutes, prosecutors seemed to agree that Nichols, 57, is eligible to be released from death row.

    Now, it's up to Judge Don Ash to decide whether to accept these attorneys' agreement. Ash was specially appointed to the case after Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman, a former prosecutor, recused himself from Nichols' post-conviction petition.

    "If I accept this agreed order, we'll accept his [post-conviction] petition," Ash said Wednesday in a Hamilton County General Sessions courtroom. "I do have legitimate concerns about whether this is appropriate or not."

    Ash said he would release his opinion in the next two to three weeks, likely before Nichols' next court date on March 14.

    Nichols, who is being held in Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, would have to continue serving his life sentences. He was also convicted of several rapes in Hamilton County, court records show.

    According to Nichols' defenders, you can only give someone the death penalty in Tennessee for a first-degree murder conviction if jurors determine at least one "aggravating factor" beyond a reasonable doubt. When you're being sentenced for a crime, an aggravating factor is something that supports a stiffer penalty. And in this case, the factor in question was whether Nichols had been convicted of "one or more felonies that involved violence or threat of violence to the person," according to a 73-page post-conviction petition his defenders filed in Hamilton County.

    But the judge at the time never instructed jurors on the definition of "rape" or the phrase "involving the use of violence," Nichols' defenders said. Judges regularly read jurors instructions on how to interpret certain elements of a crime before they deliberate.

    "Without these findings of the trial court, Mr. Nichols would not have been eligible for and could not have received a death sentence," the defenders wrote.

    Prosecutors conceded that point Wednesday.

    "In this particular case, the court notified the jury of what [his] prior charge was — rape — as opposed to the jury learning those facts," Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said. "Under that situation, the state is willing to concede and offer a modified sentence to the court."

    Ash and the lawyers discussed Wednesday how courts nationwide were split on how to handle this issue. For instance, defenders pointed out in their motion, Florida called on judges to determine aggravating factors, not jurors. Ash also wanted to know if prosecutors were able to reach family members of Nichols' victims, but Pinkston said his office hadn't been able to get in contact with them.

    Before he releases his opinion, Ash said he would accept more briefs from prosecutors and defenders. But overall, he seemed apprehensive of the agreement to remove him from death row and the longevity of Nichols' case.

    "This has gone on long enough," he said.

    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/b...th-row/462574/

  9. #9
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    Judge orders convicted Chattanooga serial rapist, murderer to stay on death row

    By Zack Peterson
    The Chattanooga Times-Free Press

    A Tennessee judge says a convicted serial rapist and murderer from Chattanooga will remain on death row, a month after attorneys suggested a law change would allow Harold Wayne Nichols to be taken off it.

    During a hearing in January, Judge Don Ash, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., said he had "legitimate concerns" about whether it was appropriate to let Nichols, 57, serve out his life sentences instead of keeping him on death row for possible execution.

    And in an opinion filed Wednesday in Hamilton County Criminal Court, Ash rejected the agreement altogether, saying none of Nichols' constitutional rights were violated when a judge incorrectly applied an enhancement statute in 1990. An appeals court later ruled that was "harmless error," Ash wrote.

    Since he was convicted in 1990 for the first-degree felony murder of Karen Pulley, Nichols has filed numerous appeals. Under last month's proposed agreement, Nichols would have avoided death but would continue serving a 60-year punishment.

    Nichols is also serving 15 years for aggravated rape in 1990 and was convicted of several other rapes, court records show.

    Family and friends of Nichols' victims cheered Ash's decision, which first became available Friday.

    It brought temporary assurance that Nichols won't leave prison any time soon, a possibility some victims prepared for when they first heard he could be released.

    "The first thing out of my kid's mouth was, 'Well, is he going to come after us?'" said Jeff Monroe, whose wife, Elizabeth, was sisters with Pulley. They live more than 2,000 miles away from Chattanooga.

    "That was just this last month," Monroe said. "And that was painful to hear."

    Nichols could appeal Ash's ruling. His post-conviction defenders could not be reached for comment Friday.

    In a 73-page brief in 2016, defenders said a judge told jurors in 1990 that Nichols was previously convicted of rape. But that instruction wasn't done correctly, and Nichols went to death row because of it, they argued. Nichols was entitled to relief, they said, because a 2015 opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court changed those rules.

    Though Chattanooga prosecutors conceded that point in January, Ash said the argument was "simply incorrect."

    Ash also rejected another claim that Nichols' defense attorney in 1990 should have objected when prosecutors argued Nichols was too dangerous to be released on parole.

    Tennessee hasn't put someone to death since 2009, according to news accounts. But last month, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery asked the state Supreme Court to schedule eight executions before June 1.

    Nichols is not included in that list. But one of the men is Leroy Hall, of Chattanooga, who was convicted in 1992 of murder and aggravated arson.

    Between 1997 and 2016, there were 62 defendants convicted of first-degree murder in Hamilton County, with 16 being sentenced to death, Nichols' defenders said. According to their motion, though, 13 of those sentences have been reversed.

    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/b...cument/465593/

  10. #10
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    State Attorney General Seeks Execution Dates for Nine Death Row Prisoners

    By Steven Hale
    Nashville Scene

    Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to set execution dates for nine more men, including the four remaining death row prisoners from Nashville.

    The request for more execution dates came without warning. Slatery’s office filed motions asking for the dates on Sept. 20 — the same day the AG announced he would challenge Nashville Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins’ decision to vacate the death sentence of Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman at the request of Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk. Slatery took aim at Watkins and Funk — both of whom are elected officials — in a press release announcing the legal challenge, calling the decision to drop

    Abdur’Rahman’s death sentence “unlawful” and “unprecedented.” Funk said he stands by his position, while Abdur’Rahman’s attorney Bradley MacLean called the AG’s move “unprecedented” and said the state is “bound” by Watkins’ order.

    The AG can seek execution dates for a death row prisoner once the prisoner has exhausted the three-tier appeals process. The state Supreme Court decides when the executions will take place. In February 2018, Slatery sought a slew of execution dates and asked for them to be scheduled in quick succession, citing concerns about the state’s ability to carry out lethal injections beyond June of that year. The state Supreme Court ultimately blocked the AG’s request for the rush of executions.

    Excluding Abdur’Rahman — whose execution had been scheduled for April 16, 2020 — there are two more men scheduled to be executed in the coming months: Lee Hall on Dec. 5 and Nicholas Sutton on Feb. 20.

    The men for whom the AG is seeking execution dates are below:

    Harold Nichols (Hamilton County), convicted for the 1988 rape and murder of Karen Pulley. Nichols has also been convicted for a series of other rapes.

    Like the five men who have been executed since August 2018, many of the men above have a history of severe mental illness.

    The Scene received this response from Assistant Federal Public Defender Kelley Henry:

    We learned of the request for mass executions late yesterday after receiving the requests in the mail. Seven of the nine are represented by my office. All of the remaining Davidson county cases are included in the request. We were surprised by the request for mass executions. Each case is unique and represents a number of fundamental constitutional problems including innocence, racism, and severe mental illness. We will oppose the appointed Attorney General’s request.

    https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/...-row-prisoners
    Last edited by Mike; 09-24-2019 at 09:28 AM.
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