Murder suspect heads to district court |

Murder suspect heads to district court

by Sheila Gardner
Nicole Followill hears testimony during her preliminary hearing in East Fork Justice Court on Friday.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Murder suspect Nicole Followill is to appear April 14 for arraignment on a charge of open murder after she was bound over to Douglas District Court following a preliminary hearing Friday.

After a two-hour hearing, East Fork Justice Tom Perkins found there was sufficient evidence to believe that a crime occurred Dec. 2, 2013, and Followill, 30, was responsible.

She is charged with open murder with the use of a firearm, and will appear before District Judge Michael Gibbons.

“This is the most severe charge someone can face,” said District Attorney Mark Jackson at the conclusion of the hearing.

He argued against reducing her $1 million bail.

Followill’s attorney, Derrick Lopez, said his client would not be a danger to the community with strict supervision and house arrest.

Perkins declined to reduce the bail.

Followill has been in Douglas County Jail more than three months since her arrest following the shooting death of Jason Richard Thrift, 33.

A coroner’s inquest in January determined that Thrift died by criminal means, and not by justifiable homicide as the defendant claimed.

An open murder charge allows a jury to determine the degree. Jurors would be instructed on first-degree, second-degree, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

Followill reportedly admitted to investigators that she shot Thrift, but said he had been beating her. She appeared at her arraignment with a black eye and bruises.

The incident took place in a home in the 1300 block of Toler Lane in Gardnerville that the couple was renting.

Followill was in the process of kicking Thrift out of the house when the shooting occurred. He died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Followill’s brother Shaun testified Friday as he had at the inquest that he arrived at the scene moments after Thrift was shot.

He said Thrift was still breathing, but he could tell the victim was mortally wounded.

Jackson played the 911 tape where a traumatized Shaun Followill begged for help, and could be heard yelling at the suspect, asking her why she shot Thrift.

In a videotaped interview with sheriff’s office investigators played at the inquest, Nicole Followill said Dec. 2 was the fourth time Thrift had beaten her since he moved into the house in July.

Her brother testified Friday that he could tell right away she had been hit. He said the left side of her face was red and puffy.

“She looked like she’d been in a boxing match, like a professional boxer does when he gets beat up,” Shaun Followill said.

He said he was unaware that his sister was being beaten.

“I had never heard of it before. They didn’t discuss their personal disputes with me,” he said.

Shaun Followill was the only witness at the preliminary hearing.