Newport Accident Suspect Has His Day in Court

September 8, 2006 -- Posted at 4:09 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, AR -- The man charged with the deaths of two Newport women made his first appearance in court today.

44-year-old Gary Nicholson of Newport is charged with two counts of manslaughter, four counts of 2nd degree battery, one count of 3rd degree battery, and one count of criminal mischief.

"Mr. Nicholson is very, very remorseful about everything that's happened, and he's ready to take any punishment that is dealt to him," said Nicholson's attorney, Phil Hout.

Nicholson made his first appearance before a judge this morning, and his bond was set at $1,000,000.

Nicholson's attorney said this tragedy is having a big impact on everyone... including his client.

"It's a horrible tragedy and I personally knew the victims, the people who were hurt and the people that were killed," said Hout.

As previously reported, Nicholson was on probation at the time of the crash.

"He has admitted to police that he has used drugs on two occasions, and that's a violation of his probation," said Hout.

Results of the blood test taken the night of the accident isn't back yet, but his attorney says Nicholson wasn't using drugs on the night of accident.

"Not that night, but he...I think, took some drugs earlier.  He is addicted to drugs and he doesn't want to be.  He was on his way to a drug addiction meeting at a local church when the accident happened," said Hout.

Hout said that Nicholson claims that he had taken his shoe off and was scratching his foot when he lost control of the vehicle and plowed into Hardee's.

Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce said there are many reasons the bond is set so high in this case.

"The likelihood of conviction is a consideration for the court, which in this case we feel is high, and the seriousness of the offense," said Boyce.

If convicted of all the charges he is facing, Nicholson could face up to 50 years in prison.  His next court appearance is scheduled for October 31st.