State says Champaign County teen murderer should serve out prison sentence

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A Champaign County teenager who was 14 when he killed his surrogate mother did so slowly, inflicting severe pain on her, and he deserves to serve out his prison sentence.

That’s the argument from the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office who filed a rebuttal to Donovan Nicholas’ plea to the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals to lessen his sentence that will keep the teen locked up until 2045.

The filing describes an intense scene where Nicholas called for Hedi Fay Taylor to come downstairs and when she did he attacked her with a knife. The filing says the teenager stabbed her and slashed her before stopping his attack because he was tired.

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The filing says Taylor begged Nicholas to call 911 for medical help, but he refused. The rebuttal then says Taylor tried to go back upstairs to reach her cell phone, but before she could make it up the stairs Nicholas had grabbed the phone and kept it away from his victim.

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“(Nicholas) then makes the decision that he is going to finish Ms. Taylor off and that he is going to kill her quickly,” the filing says. “Nicholas then goes to a nightstand next to the bed and retrieves his father’s handgun. He loads the firearm, aims the weapon at her head and pulled the trigger…”

Nicholas was found guilty by a jury in the case in 2018 and was sentenced to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 28 years.

The teenager filed an appeal to the higher court asking they review his case and find that the Champaign County courts made a mistake.

The defense team argues that Champaign County Family Court Judge Lori Reisinger arbitrarily disregarded expert testimony in her ruling that sent the teenager’s case to adult court.

“The juvenile court misread the evidence and gravely misperceived its options, much to Donovan’s detriment,” the appeal says. “At a critical moment, when the court had the chance to wield the vast rehabilitative powers of the juvenile system, it balked, elevating conjecture and speculation over evidence and fact. Given the record in this case, the court’s decision amounted to an abuse of discretion and it must be reversed.”

The defense argues that Springfield psychologists Daniel Hrinko testified that he believed Nicholas suffers from dissociative identity disorder and that the chief of behavioral health services at the Ohio Department of Youth Services testified that the department could offer treatment to him.

The state rebuts the defense’s argument in their filing.

READ: Donovan Nicholas Champaign County stabbing

“Dr. Hrinko stated that, due to the rare nature of dissociative identity disorder in someone in his teens, he couldn’t cite a single article or a single specific case when treatment has been documented involving homicidal behavior,” the state says. “Further, Dr. Hrinko indicated that intensive therapy lasting several years, with no clarification as to what specific time frame, would be necessary in order to lessen (Nicholas’) danger to society.”

The state also says a representative from the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Sarah Book, told the court that dissociative identity disorder was rare and wasn’t sure of the ability of the department to handle treatment and 24-hour care of Nicholas.

A court date in the case has not been set.

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