Denzil Wells II, 40, with his attorney Drew Griffith, pleaded guilty in the death of Nicole Sours, 37, who was found dead in his bed.
Nicole Sours’ life ended April 13 after she went home with a man she’d known for only two weeks and became the victim of what an assistant prosecutor called “rough sex that went horribly wrong.”
Ms. Sours, 37, died from strangulation.
On Wednesday, the man who caused the fatal injuries, Denzil Wells II, 41, of 1411 Brooke Park Drive, entered an Alford plea to reduced charges of reckless homicide and obstructing justice — charges that carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda found him guilty and scheduled sentencing for Aug. 25.
“It is very disappointing,” the victim’s sister, Shanan Iddi, said afterward. “This is not what we wanted, but we were made to believe that if we didn’t take the plea agreement, he would walk.”
“It’s a total injustice to my sister,” Matt Sours, the victim’s older brother, added.
While Wells did not make a statement about what happened the night Ms. Sours died, Frank Spryszak, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court that on the night she died, Ms. Sours had sent Wells a text message asking him to pick her up from work at the Pour House, a bar on Bennett Road in West Toledo.
Mr. Spryszak said the two smoked marijuana and went back to his apartment where they had sex that involved Wells applying pressure to her neck and breaking a horseshoe-shaped bone in her throat called the hyoid.
Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, a deputy Lucas County coroner who conducted an autopsy on Ms. Sours, “would have testified that while they were having sex, Mr. Wells would have had his left forearm on the back of her neck and her upper left back and would have had his other arm around the front of her in a choking fashion, and this is what would’ve caused the strangulation,” Mr. Spryszak said.
He added that investigators found pornographic images downloaded on Wells’ cell phone depicting men choking women.
Shanan Iddi, sister of the slaying victim, Nicole Sours, says the proposed sentence for Ms. Sours’ killer ‘is a smack on the hand.’
Wells initially told Toledo police that he and Ms. Sours had had sex and gone to sleep, that he later woke up and found Ms. Sours dead in his bed. Her death was not ruled a homicide until an autopsy conducted by Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett, a deputy Lucas County coroner, concluded that she died from strangulation. Wells was charged May 14 with murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years.
While the victim’s family members were clearly unhappy with the outcome of the case, Mr. Spryszak said he and Dr. Scala-Barnett met with them at length to discuss the evidence and the problems it would present if the case went to trial.
Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division for the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, said that while the facts in some homicide cases seem clear-cut, that is not always the case.
“As prosecutor we have to go forward with the evidence that is available. Sometimes that is favorable and sometimes it is not,” he said. “In this case, there are circumstances and facts present which may have had a negative impact at trial.”
Mr. Lingo declined to be more specific.
Prosecutor Julia Bates said her office always tries to take into consideration the feelings and wishes of victims’ families, “but ultimately it is our responsibility. We’re the ones that are responsible to do what is best. This is what we felt was best for all parties.”
Ms. Iddi said after the hearing that Wells was “a complete stranger” to her family and apparently only knew her sister for a week or two.
“My mom is just beside herself,” she said. “There’s no justice in this. There never will be, but four years, three years is a smack on the hand for taking a life.”
Drew Griffith, who represented Wells, said his client “certainly regrets the loss of life and entered into this plea to properly reflect the offenses under the Ohio Revised Code.”
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