Inquest into Toler shooting begins
January 24, 2014
A Douglas County sheriff's deputy testified Thursday that when he was taking suspect Nicole Followill into custody following the fatal shooting of her roommate, she voluntarily confessed.
Deputy Justin Fricke said Followill was angry and upset Dec. 2 as he handcuffed her following the late morning shooting of Justin Thrift, 33.
"I overheard Nicole say he (Thrift) was beating on her so she shot him in the head," Fricke said.
"Is my face a mess?" Followill asked, according to Fricke.
"She said, 'He did it,'" Fricke said.
He said Followill was looking back at Thrift whose body was lying in the doorway of the rental they shared in the 1300 block of Toler Lane in Gardnerville.
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Photos indicated Followill had extensive bruising on her face, arms, legs and hands.
Fricke testified at a coroner's inquest to determine if a murder charge against Followill, 29, should stand, or if she committed a lesser criminal charge, or justifiable homicide.
East Fork Justice Tom Perkins is conducting the civil proceeding before a jury of three and an alternate.
Followill is in Douglas County Jail on $1 million bail, and is not attending the inquest.
District Attorney Mark Jackson questioned Followill's former roommate David Aguirre, her brother Shaun Followill, and two neighbors Thursday morning.
Shaun Followill testified that Thrift showed up at his Waterloo Lane residence about two hours before he was killed and knocked on the door.
Thrift had sent a text message indicating that Nicole Followill had physically fought with him and was throwing him out.
"Justin knocked at 9:30 a.m., and I didn't want to answer the door. I wanted to play video games. I probably should have (answered), then we would have avoided this whole thing," he said.
Jackson played Shaun Followill's 911 tape following the shooting. His sister can be heard crying in the background.
When deputies arrived, Nicole Followill was in the front yard of the house smoking a cigarette.
Thrift's body was lying across the front door threshold and his clothing and other belongings were strewn on the lawn.
The gun, a 9 mm Glock, was inside on the living room floor.
Thrift was shot once in the head.
Testimony Thursday indicated that Thrift wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with Nicole Followill, but she made it clear to him that she wasn't interested.
Neighbors said they occasionally heard "bickering" over financial matters, but never witnessed any sign of physical violence between the two.
Thrift was unemployed, but was enrolled in a mining education program.
Investigator Ted Jasperson, who took the lead on the investigation, described Nicole Followill as a "firearm enthusiast."
He said she and her brother and Thrift frequented the firing range and she is proficient in the use of handguns.
Testimony was expected to conclude Thursday afternoon with the case going to jurors Friday morning.
Thrift was a Marine veteran of the Iraqi War.