MILLENIAL OFFENDER: Bobby Joe Nichols first registered as a sex offender in 2000 for a 1995 complaint of indecency with a child
Waco – Disgust spewed from a pretty young lady prosecutor’s mouth as she advocated what amounts to a life sentence for a man who allegedly molested his 14-year-old biological daughter in 1995.
From the witness stand, his sister testified, “He pleaded guilty just for probation.” Bobby Joe Nichols did not really commit the crime of indecency with a child with sexual contact, said Pamela Johnson.
“That’s what his attorney told him to say.”
Her inability to answer the rapid fire questions of the lady prosecutor with a simple yes or no built to a crescendo of rage between the two women, a conflict that polluted the air of the courtroom with a tension one could taste and feel, like a miasma of leaden sulfur lingering in the air.
Quite simply, she squeezed into her testimony over the prosecution’s loud objections, the opinion that her brother was the victim of a bad girl’s accusations, an unhappy family affair.
It was one of those very brief hearings that occur during a busy day in 54th Criminal District Court, a bare few minutes filled with bluff emotions that speak a lifetime’s history of misery.
The story tumbles out in a series of images and recollections too rapid to take in at first glance.
When the brief interlude that will serve as prelude to what amounts to a life sentence for a man suffering from a terminal liver problem was finished, his attorney remarked to the Judge, “I kept wondering this morning which case we were trying. This man has already served his time.
“It’s like getting arrested for speeding at the Indianapolis 500,” said criminal defense attorney Stan Schweiger. “It’s a technical violation of a law. He was there where he said he was.”
Judge Matt Johnson didn’t see it that way.
He sentenced Bobby Joe Nichols, who is 62 and suffering from a “bad liver” condition that is terminal, to 10 years in the penitentiary because he did not keep the Texas Department of Public Safety apprised of his exact address.
His long-ago victim, a daughter named Misty, alerted the Waco Police he had opened a business in his home. An investigation showed that his latest address as a registered sex offender as noted in their database in 2016 is CR 15, Tulia, Texas.
Nichols’ occupation is that of a truck driver. He operated on Texas highways six to seven days a week, according to his testimony. His sister Pamela said the longest she’s seen him stay put is the amount of time it takes to do a load of laundry before he’s back on the road.
In all those years, she said, she has never seen any evidence of his sexual molestation of a child.
During a lingering illness, his wife’s will to live dwindled to the extent that she lost 94 pounds, according to Nichols, due to chronic depression and anxiety. In her weakened condition, she required his care 24 hours a day.
At that point, he changed his business address to his home. He said it was his understanding of the rules regarding registering residence and place of business.
When the lady prosecutor cross-examined him, she asked wasn’t it true the couple were “about to be indicted” for sexually abusing “little children.”
In a rapid fire of questions, she asked him if he had not exposed himself with his genitals “tied up in a piece of string,” subjected his grandson to genital bondage, and inserted a dildo in the child’s anus.
He had no problem confining his response to a single word.
Nichols said no, no, and no to all those questions. When his attorney took over on re-direct examination, he answered the allegations about his grandson as “ludicrous.”
A father and son who served as character witnesses did not move the Court.
Deputy Brent Ewing of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office recalled that he has known Nichols since he was “about 10 years old.” He raced cars with his father Kelly, and for two years he lived in their home during his father’s recovery from cancer. His father testified similarly. Neither noted any reason to suspect him of doing wrong.
The prosecution’s final remark to the Court was, “You will be saving a lot of little kids” from the prospect of sexual assault.
As a convicted offender who entered a plea of guilty in order to get a suspended sentence, Nichols has no right to appeal unless the Court gives him permission to do so. He acknowledged that in his hearing because his original “plea of guilty omitted some language,” according to Judge Johnson’s remarks at the hearing’s onset.