The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 2, 2012

Nichols guilty of raping grandchild

A Limestone County jury on Thursday convicted an Elkmont grandfather of raping his 14-year-old granddaughter following a three-day trial in Limestone County Circuit Court.

The 12-member jury received the case against Austin Nichols Jr., 58, of 26821 Clem Road, Thursday afternoon and reached a guilty verdict before 5 p.m. on three counts of first-degree rape.

Nichols was accused of raping his granddaughter on three separate occasions in the summer and fall of 2009 when she was 14. The victim, whose name is being withheld because she is a minor, was living with her grandparents, father and uncle at the grandparents’ Clem Road mobile home at the time. She now lives elsewhere with her father and stepmother.

Nichols, who has been a builder, landscaper and evangelist minister, had denied the allegations.

Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof Jr. will sentence Nichols at a later date.

District Attorney Brian Jones was pleased with the outcome.

“I would like to thank Jim Ayers and the staff of the District Attorney’s Office for their hard work on this case and for the hard work, professionalism and dedication of the investigators from the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department,” he said. “I would also like to thank the jurors for their service, their attention and their upholding the rule of law in our society. Without them, our judicial system could not function.”

Jones added that in this age of crime scene investigation, it is difficult to try a case that has been pending since 2009 with no physical evidence or forensic testimony.  

First-degree rape is a Class A felony punishable by 10 to 99 years in state prison and a fine up to $20,000. 

Sister testifies

The sister of the accused, Linda Gali, 50, of Ardmore, testified Thursday Nichols had sexually molested her and once raped her as a child in Chicago.

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