Murder suspect Nichols sentenced on reduced charges


Stephen Nichols

The nearly eight-year-old Eagle Creek murder case has been adjudicated.

Steven Wagner Nichols, 42, pled guilty in Hood River County Circuit Court Monday to two felonies: criminally negligent homicide and coercion — but a murder charge stacked against him was dismissed.

Judge John Wolf sentenced Nichols to roughly a year and a half in county jail.

Prosecutors said Nichols pushed his girlfriend, Rhonda Casto, 23, of Portland, off a 100-foot cliff to her death at Eagle Creek Trail west of Cascade Locks in 2009.

Nichols was arrested in 2015, charged with murder, and indicted by a Hood River County grand jury.

The case was scheduled to go to trial in spring 2018; however, it wrapped up last week via a settlement agreement between Nichols’ attorney, Mike Arnold, and Carrie Rasmussen, Hood River County deputy district attorney.

Nichols most recently lived in Portland on house arrest. Before that, he lived in Bend and a city in China. The court’s electronic monitoring agreement was terminated by Nichols’ sentencing agreement.

Wolf sentenced Nichols to 19 months, however Nichols will get credit for time served in custody leading up to the sentencing. He will serve three years of post-custody supervision.

See Saturday’s edition of the Hood River News for more information.

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