UPDATE: The State rested its case in the murder trial for Dr. Bobby Nichols Thursday evening, and the Defense will begin their case on Wednesday, January 23rd.
Nichols is accused of murdering his wife Rosalind inside their central Tyler home on June 29, 2012.
TYLER (KYTX) --Testimony continued in the murder trial for Dr. Bobby Nichols Thursday. Nichols is accused of murdering his wife Rosalind inside their central Tyler home on June 29, 2012.
Tyler Police Crime Scene Investigator Donald Malmstrom took the stand again, allowing for cross examination by defense attorney Bradley Lollar.
Lollar focused on evidence presented by Malmstrom and prosecutors which could have indicated the person who shot 71-year-old Rosalind Nichols was sitting in the chair next to the couch where her body was found.
"Is it possible the person was I stead standing behind that chair?" Lollar asked.
"Yes, that's possible," Malmstrom said.
Lollar showed a photo if what appeared to be a glass of wine in the living room where Rosalind's body was found. He asked Malmstrom whether anyone had searched the kitchen or the rest of the home for alcohol or prescription drugs. Malmstrom said he had not personally made that type of search. He said he assumed someone else had.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Vance resumed his questioning by asking Malmstrom whether there was much difference in the distance someone sitting in the chair would have been from Rosalind's body and the distance someone standing behind the chair would have been from her body. Malmstrom said there was little difference.
Vance asked about the location of two shell casings found on the floor in the home, and whether they could give some idea of which side of the room the shooter was standing on. Malmstrom said it was clear the shooter had been near the foyer of the home to the shooter's right of Rosalind's body.
Lollar asked if it was possible that the missed shot had been an intentional miss, while the shot that killed Rosalind was an unintentional hit. Malmstrom said it was possible.
Vance asked if that mattered. Malmstrom said it did not.
Lollar said he did not think it made sense that Dr. Nichols would have missed if he was shooting at his wife given his extensive history of gun use. He asked Malmstrom if it was possible that, if Rosalind had ingested an intoxicant that afternoon, she would have been unable to react as a normal person would when being shot it. Malmstrom said it was possible.
Vance said he thought Lollar's line of questioning was from "hypothetical land" and asked Malmstrom to re-focus himself on the evidence. Vance produced a photo of the couch and showed a pillow with a noticeable intention. He asked if it was possible that Rosalind became pinned against the pillow after being shot. Malmstrom said it was possible.
After asking the jury to leave the courtroom, Vance asked Malmstrom whether he had discovered a hand-written note inside a canister in the kitchen.
"We located a note that said 'I want to kill you,'" Malmstrom said.
"And that was done with Dr. Nichols' consent to search the home, and with a valid search warrant in place?" Vance said.
"Yes it was," Malmstrom said.
The prosecution offered a photo of the note and a photo of the location in which it was found into evidence. However, it's not clear who wrote the note.
With the jury back in the courtroom, the prosecution called Sergeant Jeff Radcliffe with the Tyler Police Department as its next witness.
The state had Radcliffe open several sealed evidence packages which contained bullet and shell casing material found in the Nichols' home.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Parrish showed three unused 9mm bullets to the court. Radcliffe said they were from the magazine inside the gun found on the coffee table inside the Nichols' home.
"When these bullets penetrate human flesh, what are they capable of doing?" Parrish said.
"Killing someone," Radcliffe said.
Parrish produced the gun and magazine found in the home.
"These were used to murder Rosalind Nichols," he said.
"Yes," Radcliffe said.
Parrish showed the jury photos of the gun when it was found. Radcliffe said those photos depicted a gun that was jammed and could no longer be fired.
Parrish showed photos of Rosalind's clothing, in which Radcliffe identified what he said were likely bullet holes surrounded by blood.
Parrish asked Radcliffe again about the indentation in the pillow on the couch. Radcliffe said it was possible that it indicated an "application if force." He said it could indicate Rosalind was attempting to get away from a shooter.
Lollar asked Radcliffe if the indentation could be consistent with Rosalind having simply slumped over, followed by someone administering CPR on her. Radcliffe said that was also possible.
With the jury out of the courtroom, Parrish asked Radcliffe about the note found in the kitchen, showing it to him on the witness stand.
Radcliffe confirmed the note was found in the kitchen, and confirmed what it said.
With the jury back in the courtroom a firearms expert, contracted by the prosecution, testified that the bullets found inside the Nichols' home were fired from the pistol found on the coffee table. He also confirmed the fact that the gun was in poor condition and jammed when it was recovered at the scene.
The next witness called by the prosecution was Dr. Bridget Eutenier, a forensic pathologist. Eutenier performed the autopsy on Rosalind's body on July 2, 2012.
Eutenier said Rosalind's body clearly had a gun shot wound to the torso as well as some evidence of blunt force trauma.
"The cause of death was a gun shot wound of the torso," she said.
"What injuries occurred inside her body when she was shot?" Parrish said.
"There were injuries of the small bowel, [some fat that surrounds it and a vein]," she said.
In photos taken during the autopsy, Eutenier identified a bruise on Rosalind's upper chest and the entrance and exit wound made by the bullet.
Parrish stood and had Eutenier demonstrate on his own body where the bullet entered and exited. In an upright position the bullet appeared to enter the body lower than it exited the body, seemingly in contradiction to the previous testimony about a downward trajectory involved with a shooter sitting in the chair next to the couch.
Parrish then tilted his body to the right, clearly attempting to imitate the position prosecutors theorize Rosalind assumed against the indented couch pillow. At that point the trajectory of the wound on Rosalind's body more closely matched the trajectory described in earlier testimony.
Eutenier testified that, given the specifics of Rosalind's wound, she would have lived for several minutes, still able to see, hear and breathe. Eutenier also said Rosalind's blood contained alcohol and a blood pressure medication when she died. Her blood alcohol content was pinpointed as being between 0.224 and 0.272, depending on the sample.
Eutenier said Rosalind was relatively healthy for a 71-year-old, but she had an enlarged heart, a fatty liver and "severe" plaque buildup in the aorta.
Lollar asked Eutenier to further explain what she meant by "severe." She said she did not have further information on that.
Lollar asked how far the gun had been fired from. Eutenier said that the range was "indeterminate."
Lollar asked how drunk Rosalind would have been with the previously disclosed alcohol level in her blood. Eutenier said she could not say for sure without knowing Rosalind's history of alcohol use.
Parrish asked how Rosalind's blood alcohol content has any effect on her cause of death.
"It does not," Eutenier said.
The prosecution's next witness was Bill Bobbitt, a bail bondsman from Tyler.
Bobbitt said Nichols used his services upon bonding out of jail. He also said Nichols was his dentist for approximately thirty years.
"What did the defendant tell you about what had happened that night?" Parrish said.
"He said they had some verbal confrontations that afternoon. And finally after three or four hours she got quiet. Then she got loud again. He said he couldn't take it anymore so he went outside and got his 9 millimeter from his truck," Bobbitt said. "He said he took a shot and she was still going so he shot again and laid her down."
Lollar asked how Bobbitt could have remembered all this without making notes at the time. Bobbitt said he didn't need notes to remember that conversation.
The next witness was Rhonda Mothershed, a Licensed Vocational Nurse with Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.
Mothershed said she spoke with him about an upcoming appointment, and upon informing him of the appointment he said would be unable to make it.
"He said he killed his wife," Mothershed said.
"That must have taken you by surprise," Vance said. "What did you do?"
"I asked him if he wanted to reschedule," Mothershed said. "He said no. That he would be in the penitentiary."
The next witness was Detective Craig Shine with the Tyler Police Department. Shine said he interviewed Nichols the night of Rosalind's death.
The prosecution played a video recording of the interview.
"I'm sorry about what's happened tonight," Shine said.
"Not as sorry as I am," Nichols said. "I've been living with this for years. Her fussing at me."
"I told her to leave me alone and she wouldn't," Nichols said.
"I just shot her," he said. "I wish I hadn't but I did."
"How many times did you shoot her?" Shine said.
"Two times," Nichols said. "I'm so sorry."
"Dr. Nichols you don't need to apologize here," Shine said.
"I know but for the people I've hurt, I do," Nichols said.
"What did you do between the time you shot her and the time you called police?" Shine said.
"I walked over and told her I'm sorry," Nichols said. "She leaned over and said 'oh hell,' and I tried to lean her back up and get her breathing again."
"Where were you standing when you shot her?" Shine said.
"I was there in that doorway by the front door," Nichols said.
Nichols also gave his permission for police to conduct a full search of his home.