Former Silt man given 24 years after felony assault conviction from 2021 Glenwood Springs shooting

A former Silt resident, who was convicted in a September trial of first-degree assault for a domestic-violence shooting in downtown Glenwood Springs in April 2021, was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison.

The sentence for Padrikea Nichols was handed down by Ninth District Judge John Neiley in Garfield District Court in Glenwood, following an emotional hearing that included comments from family members and friends of both Nichols and the victim, Thomas Powell, who later died after being parlyzed from the neck down from the shooting.

Following a two-week trial, a jury on Sept. 29 cleared Nichols, 37, of first-degree attempted murder but found him guilty of the first-degree assault charge.

The charges stemmed from an incident the night of April 25, 2021, when Nichols came to the Glenwood Springs home of his ex-wife and Powell’s wife at the time, Jenna Powell, in the 800 block of Pitkin Avenue and used a 9-mm handgun to shoot Powell when the two confronted each other in the back driveway.

Powell ultimately died in November 2021 in New York City while in the care of family members after undergoing numerous surgeries and was left unable to care for himself.

Deputy Ninth District Attorney James Stone noted at the sentencing hearing Wednesday that prosecutors were barred from making any mention of Powell’s death at the trial, and that, regardless of his death, the attempted murder charge stuck. 

Though the jury opted for the felony assault conviction, it threw out the defense argument that Nichols was defending himself against Powell when the shooting occurred.

Given the seriousness of the assault and Powell’s ultimate demise, Stone asked for the maximum 32 years in prison for the assault conviction.

Public defender Alex Haynes, however, asked for the minimum 10 years.

“Everyone lost on April 25 (2021),” Haynes said in his sentencing argument before the judge. “There’s nothing anyone can do to fix that.

“These were two good people who, over a period of two days, devolved into something that didn’t represent who they were,” Haynes also said in reference to the positive comments made by friends and family members during the hearing, both by video conference and in person.

“Neither of these men were like this; this was an aberration,” he said.

The confrontation between the two had followed an incident the night before when Powell found out through social media posts that Nichols was with his wife at a downtown Glenwood bar. A loud phone argument over speaker phone between the two men prompted witnesses to call police response. During the investigation, Nichols was said by prosecutors to have made threats on Powell’s life, and Nichols said it was Powell who threatened him.

Nichols had been in the Garfield County Jail on $250,000 bond since his April 26, 2021 arrest after he fled the scene of the shooting and went to his home in Silt. After a July pre-trial hearing, he was released on a personal recognizance bond, which Judge Neiley said did say gave him some pause.

But the fact that he showed up for court, the way he conducted himself in hearings and at the trial weighed on the decision for the lesser-than-maximum sentence.

Though the judge and prosecutors both indicated that certain written statements made by Nichols seemed to suggest a lack of remorse, Nichols said before the court Wednesday that he was sorry for what happened.

Padrikea Nichols
Garfield County Detention Center photo

“I never had any problem with TJ … and I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me,” he said in addressing Powell’s family members on the video monitor.

“I take responsibility for may actions, and if I did something wrong I deserve to be punished for it.”

Neiley said certain aspects of the crime warranted the maximum sentence of 32 years, as requested by the prosecution and supported by a probation department pre-sentencing report. But other aspects supported a lesser sentence, he said. 

Neiley noted that the average sentence in Colorado for first-degree assault is 18 years, but he also took the opportunity to decry gun violence.

“When it comes to prevention and deterrence, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of gun violence, and gun crimes have become a contagion in our society anymore,” Neiley said.

The 24-year sentence includes 489 days already served in the county jail, plus a mandatory three years of probation. Nichols noted that in such cases, only about three-quarters of the prison term is served if the incarcerated person shows good behavior.

Nichols also reserves the right to appeal the sentencing, Neiley said.

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