Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Court declines appeal from man who murdered Utah plumber
Courts » He says he did not undertstand impact of guilty plea.
First Published Mar 11 2014 05:43 pm • Last Updated Mar 12 2014 08:18 pm

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down an appeal from a Utah man who has battled for years to revoke his guilty plea in the aggravated murder of his girlfriend’s ex-husband.

Craig Duncan Nicholls, 50, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, says he did not understand the ramifications of a plea deal he signed in 2003 because of mental illness and ineffective counsel; he also alleged misconduct by a state judge. Both the Utah Supreme Court and a Utah federal judge found the claims groundless.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Nicholls lured plumber Michael John Boudrero, his girlfriend’s former husband, to a vacant home in North Logan in July 2003 on the pretext that he needed plumbing fixed. Nicholls then shot him multiple times.

Boudrero, 47, was found in the basement of the home on July 11, 2003.

Prosecutors say Nicholls and Tamara Rhinehart hatched the murder plot to collect life insurance benefits.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in the case in exchange for Nicholls’ plea. Rhinehart, now 55, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and received a sentence of life without parole.

The appellate court said it was clear from a transcript of a court hearing that Nicholls indicated he was freely entering the plea deal and understood implications of doing so. At the time, Nicholls said he had "no mental reservations" regarding his plea and was not under the influence of any drugs, medication or intoxicants.

But in his self-written appeal to the 10th Circuit, Nicholls said he was incapacitated after being denied his depression medication and felt coerced to plead guilty by his counsel’s promises of "medications, an appeal, [his] family and even Prisneyland " — the latter apparently a reference to prison.

The court said lower rulings correctly found that depression is not a sufficient basis for a claim of incapacity and that Nicholls understood the nature of the plea deal.

"No reasonable jurist would debate the district court’s rejection of Mr. Nicholls’s claim that his plea was not knowing or voluntary," it said.

story continues below
story continues below

The court also found "no shortcoming in the trial court’s conduct of the plea hearing" or any problems with the work of Nicholls’ attorneys, which "enabled Mr. Nicholls to escape the death penalty."


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.