An 80-year-old convicted child rapist has turned himself in to authorities in Southern California, one year after he ran from the Kennewick courthouse because he saw the writing on the wall while jurors were deliberating.
William George Nicol is being held without bail in the Imperial County jail, 1,200 miles from the Tri-Cities.
The county seat, El Centro, is 12 miles north of the Mexico border. It is not yet known if Nicol, who’s from Montana, spent any time in the foreign country in the past year.
Nicol’s return to Washington state depends on whether he waives extradition.
It could not be confirmed Monday if he already has appeared before a judge because all Imperial County Superior Court offices were closed for the Columbus Day holiday.
A nationwide arrest warrant was issued Oct. 21 by Judge Jackie Shea Brown when Nicol skipped out before the jury verdict was read in Benton County Superior Court.
Nicol was on trial for sexually assaulting a grade-school boy for at least four years. He denied the allegations, claiming that the boy had been put up to lying.
Attorney Jim Egan told his client he likely was going to be convicted based on a question the jurors sent to the judge.
Nicol had been out of custody on $10,000 bail, but would have been locked up immediately if convicted of sex crimes. He reportedly told his lawyer that he was going to use the restroom during a recess in the case, but instead left the Benton County Justice Center.
Egan couldn’t reach his client by phone. A security officer testified that a man matching Nicol’s description was seen leaving the courthouse, first walking and then running toward the parking lot.
Jurors ended up convicting Nicol on two counts of first-degree child rape and one count of first-degree child molestation. The charges include the aggravating circumstance that he was in a position of trust.
The verdicts were read even though Nicol was not in the courtroom.
Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra said Monday she’d been advised by the U.S. Marshals Service that Nicol had turned himself in to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office.
A jail clerk told the Herald that Nicol came in Oct. 4, but she couldn’t release more information on the circumstances of his arrest.
When Nicol ran, Petra filed a new case for bail jumping. He will have to answer to that charge once back in Kennewick.
However, Petra wants to get Nicol sentenced as quick as possible. He is facing a mandatory minimum of 13 1/2 years to 18 years in prison, though the sex crimes carry a maximum life sentence.
Petra said she plans to ask for a term beyond the 18 years since Nicol took advantage of his connection to the boy to rape and molest him.
The other three men who are wanted for their alleged sex crimes still have active nationwide warrants.
Alexander Barrett Callahan, accused of raping and molesting a young girl, was expected to plead guilty on the morning his trial was to start in October 2014.
He allegedly borrowed his brother’s car and was never seen again. He had been out of jail after posting bond on $50,000 in the Richland case.
Khalid A. Fathey is believed to have boarded a flight for the United Arab Emirates on July 23, 2016, two days before he was to stand trial for rape and molestation charges involving a grade-school girl.
He had been free on his personal recognizance.
And on July 14, Ali A. Almafoodh flew out of Philadelphia and went to Doha, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — one day after he was arraigned for allegedly trying to have sex with a girl. He was one of 26 men caught in an online sex sting.
After traveling throughout the Middle East, Almafoodh returned through Philadelphia on Aug. 1 but he has failed to make his scheduled court appearances in Kennewick.
Tips also can be sent to the U.S. Marshals Service, firstname.lastname@example.org.