Two Men Accused Of Tulsa Hicks Park Murders To Stand Trial

Tuesday, January 10th 2012, 12:19 pm
By: News On 6

A preliminary hearing for two men charged with killing an Oral Roberts University student and her boyfriend at a Tulsa park last year ended with a Tulsa County judge ruling the two men must stand trial.

Darren Price and Jerard Davis are accused in the deaths of Carissa Horton, 18, and Ethan Nichols, 21, on September 19, 2011.

9/19/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Police Release IDs Of Victims In Hicks Park Murders

Prosecutors say the two men robbed Horton and Nichols of their phones and wallets then made them kneel and shot them execution style at Hicks Park.

Ethan Nichols and Carissa Horton were both from a small town in Iowa.  He'd moved here with his family last spring, she enrolled at ORU in the fall.

Their evening walk through a Tulsa park turned into a senseless and unexplainable tragedy.

Ethan's sister, Leann Clark, testified she saw them Sunday night, September 18th, 2011, all dressed up and going out together.

She went to Bible study and got home around 10:30 p.m. and noticed Ethan still wasn't home. The next morning, when he still wasn't there, she got concerned and when she learned he didn't show up for work, she filed a missing persons report.

She says she was calling and texting her brother's phone, telling him she had called police and wanting to know where he was and what was going on.

Leann Clark testified she received text messages from his phone, saying things like, "I'm fine, call off the police. I don't want to talk right now."

She says she texted him back and said she would not call off the police until she knew he was okay and talked to him.

Leann Clark says her father was also receiving text messages from Ethan's phone, saying he was fine and taking an out of town trip.

Tulsa Police say one of the killers was sending those text messages because Ethan was already dead.

She testified those messages are still on her phone and on Ethan's phone, which was later recovered by police.

Darren Price was arrested the day after the murders, driving Ethan's car. Police say they found a cell phone and a gun in the car.

They say Price told them his partner was Jerard Davis and they arrested him, too. They say he had Ethan's bag in his apartment, a bag Ethan's friend testified they used frequently to carry their discs for Frisbee golf and other games.

9/24/2011 Related Story: Families Say Painful Good-Bye To Hicks Park Murder Victims

The preliminary hearing ended late Tuesday evening, after prosecutors called Detective Vic Regalado and then Deshantel Watson to the stand.  

Regalado is the lead detective on the case.  He testified that when he learned Clark was receiving texts from Ethan's phone, he had Clark send a text saying she had cashed Ethan's paycheck and wanted to meet to give him the money.  

In the meantime, police had located Ethan's car in an apartment complex and begun a stakeout.  Regalado said when Price and another man got into the car and left, officers began a pursuit and eventually arrested them both.  The other man was freed after Price told them Davis, not him, was his accomplice.

Regalado testified that both Price and Davis eventually admitted to being present at the time of the killings during separate interrogations, but each told him the other man had pulled the trigger.

Next on the stand was Watson.  Prosecutors tried to establish that she was Darren Price's girlfriend and that he had told her he had shot Horton, threatening to kill Watson if she told anyone about it.

In her time on the stand she changed her answers numerous times and managed to contradict just about every answer she'd already given.

She testified Price told her he had bought the car that belonged to Ethan.  She testified Price told her Davis shot Ethan, but that Carissa then told Price she'd never forget his face so he grabbed the gun and shot her.

When cross examined by the defense she changed her story, often answering "no" to questions she had answered "yes" to just minutes earlier, or simply saying "I don't recall."

Nevertheless, the judge ruled the state had met its burden to establish probable cause on all six counts, including murder, robbery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and eluding police.