Teary Nicolas pleads not guilty to fatally shooting daughter, 2

September 27, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

In a courtroom full of supportive friends and family, Richard Allen Nicolas pleaded not guilty yesterday to the July 26 shooting death of his 2-year-old daughter.

Nicolas fought back tears as he was handcuffed and escorted out after entering his plea.

"Thanks, everybody," he said loudly to about two dozen supporters who filled three rows of seats in the courtroom. "I love you."

Nicolas, an emergency medical technician who lived in Govans, is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 17 on a first-degree murder charge.

Police say that after taking his daughter, Aja, to the movie "Pinocchio" on a Friday night -- their first time alone together -- Nicolas drove her to a road in Moravia Industrial Park and shot her through the head.

Nicolas and his lawyers have maintained that a long-haired man tapped the bumper and pulled alongside Nicolas' 1990 Chevy Cavalier; the man then fired a shot and fled. Police say the physical evidence suggests a shot fired from inside the car and contradicts Nicolas' story.

Dozens of friends and acquaintances have rallied around Nicolas, 31. Many of them have known him since he was an elementary-school playmate in the Govans neighborhood in North Baltimore, and several have contributed money to his defense.

Nicolas' supporters have been buoyed by investigators' inability find the weapon or articulate a clear motive in the case. The state's attorney's office has declined to comment on the case.

"Once you take away the alleged inconsistency of his statements, they have got no evidence," said Nicolas' attorney, Howard L. Cardin.

Cardin said an expert working for him has examined the car and believes the shot was fired from outside. He also says the car shows evidence of having been hit from behind, as Nicolas told police.

Cardin said he expects the trial will be "a duel of experts."

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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