Former Harrison County sheriff’s deputy and ordained minister Huey “Eddie” Nichols Jr. was found guilty on Monday for two counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact.
The victims in his case are his stepdaughters, who were ages 11 and 14 at the time they informed officials that Nichols had inappropriately touched their breasts, applying Udder Butter and giving them home breast exams.
The punishment phase in the trial begins today at 9 a.m.
“I can’t think of anything more damaging in our community; in our society than a police officer that chooses to break the law,” Shawn Connally, co-counsel for the state, said in closing remarks. “It’s a betrayal.”
Following the verdict, Nichols stood in the courtroom gallery embracing his wife and mother of the victims, Sharon Nichols.
Connally told jurors, despite Nichols calling the oldest victim a liar, she never changed her story.
“From the beginning of this case, back in 2011, she (the oldest) never changed her story — not once — (she says) ‘This is what goes on in this house, and I’m old enough to know, it’s wrong,’” Connally reminded them.
“She has the courage - despite the embarrassment, despite the alienation, despite everything — to come forward,” said Connally.
“Think about how this case begins,” Connally instructed jurors. “(She) comes forward, tells the school counselor, there’s some things going on in that house that’s not supposed to be going on. You heard her testify. What did she say? The defendant touched her breasts while he’s rubbing her belly on the couch, and conducts these home breast exams on a 14-year-old child…and the Udder Butter, which is what we’re asking you to convict him on.”
The assistant district attorney said to prove Nichols did it all for sexual gratification, they presented evidence of Internet searches for “hot stepdaughter” and “young, sexy daughter” found on Nichols’ computer; the searches were all conducted on his day off.
“What kind of man is going to do that kind of an Internet search?” Connally asked. “It kind of ties everything together. It shows you what’s in his state of mind. While he’s rubbing Udder Budder on his stepdaughters’ breasts, an 11 and 14 year old girl, he’s doing it for his sexual desire.”
Connally said the state presented the photos Nichols took of the victims in various states of undress to show the relationship between him and his stepdaughters.
“He developed an unnatural relationship with these little girls,” said Connally.
He asked the jury to ask themselves what was more reasonable — the defendant lying or three different girls, including the two victims and a third alleged victim in a separate case, lying about the same thing.
“When I was a kid, I remember a sermon a preacher gave, ‘Beware of false preachers, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. That is Eddie Nichols,” said Connally, quoting a biblical scripture in Matthew. “You’ve got to decide what kind of behavior we’re going to condone and what kind of behavior we’re going to condemn.
“He was never going to confess because he’s a cop and he’s a preacher, and if there’s one unforgivable sin in those professions, it’s touching a child.
“This is a about right and wrong,” said Connally.
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Vernard Solomon contended that the older step-daughter, the first to make an outcry, never liked Nichols from the beginning; thus, she concocted a story.
Regarding the photos of undress taken by Nichols, Solomon said the one with the mother and two stepdaughters mooning the camera “wasn’t done for anything other than to be funny.”
“I think that when you analyze this evidence, you might find there was some inappropriate behavior to some degree with Eddie and Sharon’s lifestyle, but the state just haven’t proved (their case),” said Solomon. “It’s just not there.
The defense attorney said the case is a misinterpretation by the authorities of what occurred. He said the victims requested the Udder Budder for a legitimate purpose, and didn’t apply it right; therefore, Nichols responded.
“Is that for sexual purposes? I don’t think so,” Solomon argued.
“They’re asking you to find him guilty of a criminal violation, but not inappropriate behavior,” he told jurors. “I’d ask you to find him not guilty, and then walk out of the courtroom with your head held high, proud of what you did.”
Both Connally and Tim Cariker, co-counsel for the state, reminded the jury that they’ve heard testimony from Nichols’ biological daughter, calling him a narcissistic (expletive); Connally read a note she wrote, calling him psycho, laughing about how he calls himself a pastor, and expressing how she doesn’t want him to be around her or her children.
“We ask you to look at the totality of the picture because when you put the totality of the picture together, we tend to see the truth,” said Cariker, displaying a photo Nichols took of the youngest victim in a state of undress.
Cariker argued that the younger victim, at one point, recanted her story after visiting the Nichols home, outside of court order, and being told by the couple that she would be the one to reunite the family.
“But, when the rubber hit the road, that little girl stood up before you, God and everybody, raised her right hand and said, ‘Eddie did touch me. He put Udder Butter on my chapped nipples, and checked me for breast cancer, and then (she) ran off the stage crying.”
“Is this somebody that’s a caring compassionate preacher, a caring compassionate parent? Or, a pervert?” Cariker asked.