PROVO, Utah — A man who admitted to strangling his wife to death nearly two years ago in their Spanish Fork home learned his fate Monday.
Despite an emotional plea from Curtis Nichols, Judge Darold McDade handed down the maximum sentence, but not before listening to the heartache of the family and friends Robyn Nichols left behind.
Kristen Walker, a family friend of Robyn Nichols (who some loved ones refer to as "Robbie") spoke first.
"Robbie’s light was taken. Robbie’s light was stolen. Robbie’s light was snuffed out by the one person who should have loved her," Walker said.
With pain in their voices and tears in their eyes, Robyn Nichols' mother Robyn Pfeiffer and sister Rachel Gibson spoke about the horrible way her life was taken at the hands of the man she loved most.
"He strangled her with his bare hands, looking down into her face, and he watched her die," Pfeiffer said.
"The hardest thing to come to grips with is the man who killed my sister wasn’t a total stranger. I wish it had been a stranger. I wish it wasn’t the man who laid down with her each night," Gibson said.
Robyn Nichols' oldest sister Jennifer Olsen, who is now the legal guardian of her three young daughters, spoke about the lasting trauma they continue to face.
"She can be found crying anywhere anytime," Olsen said about one of the girls. "Brushing her teeth, jumping on the trampoline, reading a book, looking at a picture of her mother. Her cries are better described as sobbing and wailing."
Curtis Nichols broke down crying several times and apologized to his late wife's family.
"I wish there was something I could do to take it back. I can’t," he said.
Still, the judge showed no mercy.
"Had I read through all of these letters and known what I know now, I may not have taken the plea agreement," McDade said, "Because somewhere down the road, you’re going to get out — if you survive that long."
McDade imposed sentences totaling two to 45 years in prison for charges of murder, domestic violence in the presence of a child and obstructing justice. The judge recommended that Nichols not be awarded credit for time served.