Jun 12, 2015 8:04 PM by Scott Howard
The minute reality sunk in for Rickey Nichols, he could barely breathe.
His 14-year-old daughter, Marysa Nichols, missing for several days, was found dead in a field near Red Bluff High School.
"It brought me to my knees, rocked me to my core," the 54-year-old Nichols recalled. "Everything you see. Everything you smell ... Everything about you is rocked to the core."
In a few more weeks, the murder trial for the man accused of killing his daughter is scheduled to begin in Sacramento County Superior Court. A judge ordered the trial to be moved from Tehama County to Sacramento to ensure a fair trial because of publicity surrounding the 2013 murder case.
For Rickey Nichols, the specter of a trial brings many mixed emotions. He is adamant that 42-year-old Quentin Bealer is guilty and wants to see justice served. But he's just not sure how he'll survive a trial and all that comes with it. After all, is any parent ready to sit in court and listen to what often is a clinical description of how their son or daughter died at the hands of a killer?
"I don't know if anyone would be," he says. "Honestly, I really don't know. I know I don't want to see any pictures of my daughter in death," said Nichols, who resides in Tulare County town of Porterville.
Quentin Bealer turned himself to police in March 2013 after surveillance video of him surfaced, showing Beale in the vicinity on the day and Marysa died. Bealer, who is very familiar with authorities from past small-time drug arrest, insists he turned himself in to explain his innocence. In a recent jail interview with Action News Now, Bealer said Marysa hit him up for a cigarette in the field where her body would eventually be found ... A field traveled by many students as a short cut between the high school campus and downtown Red Bluff.
But Bealer, who admits he was under the influence of methamphetamine and heroin at the time, says he and the teenager parted ways after giving her a cigarette and a lit cigarette to use as a lighter. Bealer also says this exchange explains why traces of his DNA was found on the yellow tank top police say was used to strangle Marysa.
But Marysa's father says he's not buying Bealer's story. He wants Bealer to confess and save everyone the grief of a trial.
"I think what he needs to do is just stand up like a man and plead guilty and get it over with, Nichols said. "Save his family from what they're we're going to go through. Save my family from what we're going to go through."
A trial by jury is scheduled to begin July 6 in Sacramento Superior Court. Whether that date holds is still questionable. Both sides are meeting meeting in court next week to see if they're ready.
Meantime, Rickey Nichols tries to go on as best he can. He still drives a 1996 Ford Taurus with almost 300,000 miles on it. It was a car destined for the scrap heap years ago until his then 11-year-old daughter ask if he would fix it up for her so she could drive it when she got her license.
"I can't get rid of it," Nichols says, choking through tears. "I can't. That's her car. She should be driving it. A 17-year-old teenager driving her own car."