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  1. #1
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    OR - Rhonda Casto, 23, dies in cliff fall at Columbia River Gorge, 16 March 2009



    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...murder_in.html

    Nearly six years after a 23-year-old Portland woman fell to her death from the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge, the man hiking with her that day has been charged in her death.

    Stephen Wagner Nichols, 40, of Bend was arrested Feb. 2 by San Mateo County sheriff's deputies at San Francisco International Airport... He is being held without bail on one count of murder, Hood River County officials said...

    Officials with the Hood River County Sheriff's Office reported that Rhonda Casto, 23, fell 100 feet to her death on March 16, 2009, about a mile from the trailhead located about 45 miles east of Portland off Interstate 84. Casto fell along a narrow, steep section of the trail that features wire cables and pipe handrails for hikers to safely navigate the trail.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...l#incart_river

    According to U.S. District Court documents, Casto and Nichols each bought a $1 million life insurance policy in late 2008 from MetLife naming the other as beneficiary and their then-infant daughter as the contingent beneficiary. Casto and Nichols became romantically involved in 2005, court papers show.

    Nichols sued MetLife after it denied the $1 million claim. The company said the insurance policy was void because of omissions on the application...

    Casto's mother, Julia Anne Simmons, filed a wrongful death suit against Nichols that was dismissed by Haggerty and later moved to Multnomah County Circuit Court. The case was put on hold in December 2014 because, according to court documents, the case is "under review by the Hood River County prosecutor's office."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Confusing, but maybe just the reporting (or me).
    Ins. co said policy was void because of omissions in app.
    If ct had ruled in favor of ins co on that point,
    then seems ct would not have ordered ins co to deposit $ into ct-controlled a/c.
    Ok, so seems ct decided ins policy was not void.
    IIUC, w a 'voided policy' ins co w/refund only premiums already paid.

    Wonder when policy was applied for, was issued ---how long before her death.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________
    "According to U.S. District Court documents, Casto and Nichols each bought a $1 million life insurance policy in late 2008 from MetLife naming the other as beneficiary and their then-infant daughter as the contingent beneficiary....
    Nichols sued MetLife after it denied the $1 million claim.
    The company said the insurance policy was void because of omissions on the application.

    In a June 2011 opinion written by U.S. District Court Judge Ancer Haggerty, MetLife asserted in a counter claim that "it is unclear whether plaintiff/counterclaim defendant Steven Wagner Nichols was involved in the murder of Rhonda Casto. If he was, he may not be entitled to the $1,000,000 in proceeds due under the Policy pursuant to Oregon's slayer statute, ORS 112.455-112.555."
    In October, Haggerty ruled that the $1 million claim be "deposited in an interest-bearing account with the court" after MetLife's attorneys agreed that if Nichols was not entitled to the $1 million claim, it would be payable to his and Casto's daughter. It is not clear who has custody of the girl, now 6.
    Casto's mother, Julia Anne Simmons, filed a wrongful death suit against Nichols that was dismissed by Haggerty and later moved to Multnomah County Circuit Court." bbm sbmhttp://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...l#incart_river Feb 18

  3. #3
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    Insurance purchased late 2008, Rhonda's death was in March 2009, so not very long before.

  4. #4
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    May 2004
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    Where's the child?

  5. #5
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    Sep 2015
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    I just watched the episode on 48 Hours regarding this case. I haven't read any other articles yet, but based on what was in the show I just don't think there is strong enough evidence pointing to his guilt (JMO). The judge recently declined the defense request to have the charges dismissed so he'll be going to trial at some point.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2009
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    Ontario, Canada
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    I'm very interested in the validity of Rhonda's mothers claims about a relationship between Steven and Rhonda's younger sister


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  7. #7
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    Jul 2015
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    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-no...nt_stop_c.html

    From the article:

    "...Nichols allegedly tried to suffocate his first wife and throw her off an eighth-floor balcony in China in 2003, according to the prosecutor's report. Nichol's first wife and her nanny confirmed the account, according to police reports. Nichols was never charged."

    I'm not sure why this tidbit wasn't included in the episode.

  8. #8
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    No doubt iloveleonard!!! It was so odd the way the episode portrayed him as most likely innocent thought except for the final few minutes when some very interesting information came to light


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  9. #9
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    I just watched it and leaned towards innocent until seeing the above news revan ex wife. Wow.

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  10. #10
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    http://katu.com/news/local/man-accus...leased-on-bail

    According to court documents, Nichols is facing rape and sodomy charges in Washington County against a 16-year-old victim.



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  11. #11
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    Quite the catch.
    Be the most brilliant color in the box!

  12. #12
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    Oct 2014
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    Eagle Creek murder trial not likely until 2018

    http://www.hoodrivernews.com/news/20...ly-until-2018/

    A man accused of pushing his girlfriend off a cliff to her death eight years ago likely won’t see trial until at least spring 2018.

    Stephen Nichols, 42, who faces a murder charge in Hood River County, is living on house arrest in Portland via an agreement signed by a judge.

    Nichols appeared in person, dressed in street clothes, for a status check hearing at Hood River County Courthouse on March 30. His attorney, Mike Arnold, called in by phone and discussed trial scheduling with Judge John A. Olson and state prosecution.

    The parties arrived at a tentative schedule for a March 2018 trial. If the case proceeds to that stage, the actual court proceedings would span several weeks. Deputy District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen said in court she expected it would take 2-3 weeks, while Arnold anticipated 4-6.

    Olson inquired about defense and prosecution attempting a settlement conference — a meeting seeking to resolve the case without going to trial. He said it would be the second attempt at doing so. Rasmussen and Arnold indicated they were amenable to trying again

    Nichols was arrested in 2015 and the murder case has inched forward since. The Oregon Supreme Court decided on an appeal last month that the case can move forward, but certain testimony gathered by police interrogation is inadmissible due to a violation of Nichols’ due process rights.

  13. #13
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    Murder suspect Nichols sentenced on reduced charges

    http://www.hoodrivernews.com/news/20...duced-charges/

    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.

    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.

    Wolf sentenced Nichols to 19 months for each felony charge. Nichols will get credit for time served in custody leading up to the sentencing, which reduces his overall sentence. He will also serve three years of post-custody supervision.



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