Murder suspect Nichols sentenced on reduced charges

Stephen Nichols

Stephen Nichols, a man accused of a 2009 murder in Hood River County, on Friday pled guilty to a separate charge of sex abuse, in Washington County.

Nichols, 41, formerly from Bend and Portland, pled guilty to two counts of sex abuse in the third degree, a Class A misdemeanor. He is slated to appear in court on Wednesday, Nov. 2, for sentencing.

Nichols was brought up in Washington County Circuit Court in Hillsboro in February on felony charges of raping an underage girl in the Portland metro area sometime between July 2005 and January 2006. According to court documents, prosecutors alleged Nichols engaged in sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16.

Last year, in a separate case, Nichols was charged with killing his girlfriend, 23-year-old Rhonda Casto of Portland, in 2009 by pushing her off a cliff at Eagle Creek Trail near Cascade Locks. The protracted murder case hasn’t yet reached a verdict.

Nichols bailed out of Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility in April, on house arrest in Portland, only to be rearrested after prosecutors said he violated his release agreement. A murder trial was originally scheduled for May, but it was put on hold due to an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court filed by prosecutors.

Nichols is scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon before Judge D. Charles Bailey for sentencing on the sex abuse charge.

Recommended for you