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Man sentenced to 35 years in Boone County beating death

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- A 31-year-old man convicted in the beating death of a Holts Summit man after a night of drinking has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Donald Nickens was sentenced Monday afternoon in the death of 37-year-old Chris Byers. Nickens had been convicted in September of second-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Prosecutors said that Nickens hit Byers over the head with a 19-pound piece of concrete during a November 2006 fight. Nickens and Byers had met the night before and were drinking with two women at The Upper Deck bar north of Columbia.

After the attack, Nickens stripped Byers of his clothes except his socks and placed him in the trunk of his own car, which Nickens had been driving before the crime. Byers died in the trunk, police said.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton sentenced Nickens to serve consecutive prison terms of 25 years for the murder charge and 10 years for armed criminal action after hearing tearful testimony from Byers' parents.

Nickens initially pleaded guilty in May to manslaughter and armed criminal action but later withdrew the plea and said he wanted to stand trial.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com


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