Nearly two years after investigators determined a 35-year-old woman was strangled to death at her Spanish Fork home, her husband pleaded guilty on Monday to committing the murder while three young children were inside the residence.
Curtis Nichols, 37, told police officers he went to Walmart and McDonald’s before coming home and finding his wife unconscious on the kitchen floor in August 2017.
But after finding evidence at the scene and reviewing the medical examiner’s report, investigators charged Nichols with murder, a first-degree felony, and three counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child, all third-degree felonies.
He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges in October but changed his plea on Monday. The murder charge was amended to a second-degree felony as part of a plea agreement, and prosecutors added another charge of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.
The sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 5.
The Spanish Fork Police Department reported that Nichols had called 911 around 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2017, to report his wife was unconscious and not breathing.
First responders found Robin Nichols, 35, unconscious on the kitchen floor and her arms and legs were cold to the touch. She was transported to the Mountain View Hospital in Payson and pronounced dead, according to court documents.
Autopsy reports revealed she had deep tissue trauma in her neck, a broken hyoid neck bone and thyroid cartilage in her throat. There were also injuries to her arms and the temples on the side of her head.
The medical examiner determined the woman’s death was a homicide caused by strangulation, court documents stated.
Nichols told investigators he had left the home around 9 p.m. and went to Walmart and McDonald’s before coming home at 10:40 p.m.
Officers found receipts stating Nichols made purchases at Walmart at 10:01 p.m. and at McDonald’s at 10:11 p.m. Officers checked surveillance footage from the Walmart that showed Nichols entering the store at 9:24 p.m., police reported.
Nichols reportedly told officers he then returned home, checked on the three children and found his wife on the floor, police reported.
But investigators found wrappers from the McDonald’s purchase on the kitchen table. Based on the house’s layout, officers believed Robin Nichols’ legs would be visible from the kitchen table, according to police reports.
There were no signs of intruders inside the home and the couple’s young children were in an upstairs bedroom at the time, according to court documents.
There were also about 17 minutes between Nichols’ reported time home and his 911 call.
Nichols had injuries on his forehead that appeared to be multiple lines from scratch marks, court documents stated. He also had scratch marks on his upper arms and on his lower left arm.
When officers responded to the home, Nichols was reportedly wearing a hat that covered the marks on his forehead. He told investigators that he hit his head on a kitchen cabinet, but the injuries did not appear consistent with hitting his head, police reported.
Court documents stated that Robin Nichols had male skin cells under the fingernails of her right hand and laboratory analysis showed the skin cells matched her husband’s DNA.