Police focus on murder suspect's library activity — and whether he researched defense strategies — before wife's death

(Photo courtesy of Utah County Jail) Curtis Ray Nichols

Detectives believe a Spanish Fork man accused of murdering his wife last month may have researched legal defense strategies before her death, a search warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday shows.

Curtis Nichols, 35, was charged last week with first-degree felony murder in Robin Nichols’ Aug. 24 death. The father of three told police he returned home from errands that night, found his wife unconscious on the kitchen floor and called 911.

But police say they believe Curtis Nichols killed her, based off DNA evidence and injuries suffered by the couple indicating there had been a struggle. Charging documents said there was no sign of an intruder at the home, located at 952 E. 1050 South. An autopsy concluded the 35-year-old woman was likely strangled.

Now, detectives are investigating what Curtis Nichols was doing before his wife’s death. On Tuesday, a search warrant unsealed in 4th District Court shows Spanish Fork police heard from a librarian four days after Robin Nichols’ death, saying Curtis had been using a public computer at the Spanish Fork library for “quite some time” before his wife turned up dead. 

The librarian gave a detective documents “concerning case law and extreme emotional distress defenses” that Curtis Nichols had apparently printed out. She told police she recognized the defendant in the news.

“She said that she felt that Curtis was being very secretive of what he was printing [and] copying,” a detective wrote in the affidavit.

The librarian also said Curtis had checked out a library book, and said that both husband and wife were at the library together the day of the alleged murder. 

The detective said he wanted to conduct a search of books checked out by the couple and computer search logs from their account because he believed Curtis Nichols “may [have been] researching a defense strategy or other ways to hinder, delay, or prevent the prosecution for crimes he has been charged with.”

Police have said the couple lived in Spanish Fork for two year. The couple has three children, ages 7,5 and 2, who were in an upstairs bedroom when police arrived.

According to the warrant, the childrens’ grandmother has not allowed police to speak with them about the evening. Curtis Nichols was also charged with three counts of third-degree domestic violence in the presence of a child.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday.