A juvenile charged with killing a Champaign County woman is scheduled to undergo a competency hearing today.
Donovan A. Nicholas appeared in court for a pretrial hearing in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division Wednesday. During the hearing, Judge Lori Reisinger referenced an oral and written motion to determine Nicholas’ competency was previously filed by Attorney Darrell L. Heckman, Nicholas’ attorney.
Reisinger stated Nicholas is scheduled to undergo the competency evaluation today and a hearing on the competency evaluation will be held on June 15. Today’s evaluation will take place at the Central Ohio Youth Center.
Nicholas, 14, was charged on April 7 with one count of aggravated murder and one count of murder in connection with the April 6 homicide of Heidi F. Taylor, 40.
Following the hearing, Heckman spoke about the need for a competency evaluation.
“There are mental health issues in this case and that’s just being thorough,” Heckman said. “I think the more important issue will be his overall mental state other than competency.”
Heckman added Nicholas never had any mental health issues which required treatment previously.
Motion filed to move case to adult court
A press release issued by the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday states a motion requesting the juvenile court relinquish jurisdiction and bind Nicholas’ case over to the Champaign County Common Pleas Court General Division was filed on April 14.
“Factors that the prosecutor’s office considered in making the decision to pursue a discretionary bindover include the seriousness of the offenses alleged, the deliberate and premeditated nature of the offenses alleged and the available sanctions and penalties available in the juvenile system,” the release states.
The release adds Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi met with members of the victim’s family along with investigators from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office before making the decision to pursue discretionary bindover.
“Having reviewed these factors, it is the position of the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office that the penalties available in the juvenile court are not sufficient given the alleged conduct of Mr. Nicholas,” the release states. “Therefore, the state takes the position that a request for bindover from juvenile court to the adult court is appropriate and necessary and that the safety of the community requires that Mr. Nicholas be subject to adult sanctions.”
Within the state’s motion for transfer of jurisdiction, Talebi states in addition to the aggravated murder and murder charge, Nicholas is charged with firearm specifications for both offenses and there may also be additional charges presented as the investigation is ongoing.
The firearm specifications are one-year and three-year firearm specifications on both charges.
Talebi also contends a transfer of the case should be allowed for multiple factors including that as a result of Nicholas’ intentional acts, Taylor was killed by the juvenile’s hand and prior to death suffered serious physical or psychological harm, the juvenile’s relationship with the victim facilitated the acts charged, Nicholas had a firearm on or about his person during the commission of the acts charged, brandished, displayed and used the firearm to intentionally kill the victim, the juvenile is emotionally, physically, or psychologically mature enough for the transfer as the acts were planned, deliberate and premeditated, and that there is not sufficient time to rehabilitate Nicholas within the juvenile system as he will be 15 years old in less than three months.
Reisinger referenced the transfer motion during Wednesday’s hearing and said it would be at the court’s discretion if the case is transferred. A probable cause and amenability hearing would have to take place before the case could be transferred and Reisinger said Nicholas’ competency has to be determined to proceed in the case meaning the state’s motion is put on hold.
Other issues raised during Wednesday’s hearing included the defense asking the court to allow Nicholas’ relatives to visit him and the ability for Nicholas to have access to a specific version of the bible which was denied by the Central Ohio Youth Center.
Reisinger granted visitation privileges for two of the three requested individuals and said she will discuss why the bible was denied with the youth center.
Court statement details events of April 6
A Champaign County juvenile court statement filed by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office provides further information into the alleged events on the evening of April 6 including Nicholas telling law enforcement that another person inside him killed Taylor.
The court statement was provided by the prosecutor’s office Wednesday and was filed by Champaign County Sheriff Detective Ryan Black.
The statement notes on April 6 at 6:07 p.m., the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center received a 911 call from the residence of 4328 Valley Pike. The call was placed by a male who identified himself as Nicholas.
Upon speaking with the dispatcher, Nicholas stated he had killed his mother. A short time later the call was transferred to the Champaign Countywide 911 Center.
The statement notes while Nicholas referred to the victim as his mother, Taylor was the live-in girlfriend of Nicholas’ father and served a role similar to a mother or stepmother to the juvenile. Deputies later learned Taylor had been part of Nicholas’ life for 12 years.
As Nicholas began speaking with a Champaign County dispatcher, he advised he killed Taylor stating she had been both stabbed and shot, but further stated he did not do it. Nicholas advised that a person named Jeff is the person who stabbed and shot Taylor.
Nicholas further stated to the dispatcher “I swear it wasn’t me, it was ‘Jeff’. ‘Jeff’ is inside me.” He would advise “Jeff snapped” because he was always tired of Taylor and that she used drugs.
While Nicholas advised the firearm used was his father’s 9mm, later examination of the firearm showed it was a Kahr .380 semiautomatic pistol. Nicholas advised he stabbed himself in the leg and was currently in the kitchen.
Upon deputies arriving to the residence, they observed Nicholas wearing a white t-shirt with a large amount of blood on the front of it. He was sitting on the floor and was leaning up against a wall in the kitchen.
As Nicholas was placed in handcuffs, deputies observed a large amount of blood located in the kitchen. Nicholas advised Taylor was located in an upstairs bedroom of the residence.
As deputies went upstairs to render care to Taylor, Nicholas made a spontaneous utterance.
“Do you know about multiple personality disorder?” Nicholas said, according to the statement. “I have that and his name is ‘Jeff.’”
After deputies read his Miranda Rights, Nicholas advised his name was Donovan Nicholas and then again advised he has multiple personalities and that there is an individual named Jeff but noted Jeff does not have a last name. He advised Jeff has been in his head for three months.
Nicholas stated he used a firearm he got from a dresser.
When asked if Jeff said anything to him, Nicholas advised Jeff stated “he’s gonna kill her.” He stated Jeff had never done this before and only one person has knowledge of Jeff but would not advise who the individual is.
Nicholas stated he cut his leg by using a knife and could not walk. He further stated he placed the knife in his mouth and attempted to cut from his mouth towards his ears on each side leaving a small cut.
Nicholas was then transported to Mercy Memorial Hospital for medical treatment.
Once Nicholas was removed from the residence, deputies conducted a sweep of the residence to make sure no one else was present or injured.
Deputies reported the upstairs of the residence smelled of burnt marijuana and they observed a marijuana bowl and marijuana in the upstairs of the residence.
Deputies found Taylor in the upstairs bedroom Nicholas reported she was located in.
Upon executing a search warrant, deputies and agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification examined the residence. Law enforcement observed blood stains throughout the residence, in the living room area, kitchen, up the rear stairs off of the kitchen and into the victim’s bedroom.
A bloody knife was also recovered from the residence along with the pistol from a bedroom.
When Nicholas was interviewed by the sheriff’s office, he indicated Taylor was present in the upstairs portion of the residence. Nicholas stated he obtained a knife from the kitchen area and waited for Taylor to come downstairs.
When Taylor did not come downstairs, he requested that she come down.
Nicholas advised he waited for Taylor, hiding behind a door until she entered the area. Once she did this, Nicholas stabbed Taylor an unknown number of times. He stated Taylor asked him to stop and call 911 but Nicholas refused.
During the stabbing, Nicholas indicated his legs and Taylor’s legs were intertwined due to her struggling over the knife. He stated as he was attempting to stab Taylor, he inadvertently stabbed himself in the leg.
Nicholas stated Taylor attempted to return upstairs to obtain her cellphone and call for help, but he ran ahead of her to the bedroom in order to secure the phone and prevent her from calling for help.
Upon reaching the bedroom, Nicholas stated Taylor lay across the bed and asked him to call 911 but he said “no.”
Nicholas stated he obtained a firearm from within the same bedroom and a loaded magazine from the same drawer. After chambering a live round, Nicholas admitted he pointed the pistol at Taylor’s head and pulled the trigger discharging a bullet and striking her in the head.
Nicholas stated he shot Taylor because he wanted her to stop suffering.
The audio of the 911 call Nicholas placed to the Champaign Countywide 911 Center is available on the Daily Citizen’s website.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.