Former GHS teacher arrested on new charges involving juveniles; original bond revoked

6.20.17 Brandy Nickels bond revocation hearing for web

Former Griffin High School teacher Brandy Lynn Nickels consulted with her attorney, Larken Lee, following a Tuesday morning bond revocation hearing in Spalding County Magistrate Court. Nickels’ bond was revoked and she remains in the Spalding County Jail. Photo credit: Sheila Mathews

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Brandy Lynn Nickels, the former Griffin High School teacher charged with numerous sex crimes involving students, is being held without bond in the Spalding County Jail after her bond was revoked following a second arrest.

The GRIP was the only media present in the courtroom to hear arguments in the bond revocation hearing.

The motion to revoke Nickels bond was based on an allegation that following her release, she had contact with a witness in her initial criminal case.

According to the Griffin Police Department, a traffic stop on the vehicle Nickels was driving led to her second arrest on June 13.

Spalding County Chief Magistrate Judge Rita Cavanaugh confirmed Nickels’ bond included “a stay away order,” meaning Nickels was not permitted to have contact of any type with any victim or witness in the case.

“She was arrested on June 13, and one of the juveniles – there were three juveniles in the car – and one of the juveniles being a witness in the case, which would be a violation of the bond,” said Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker, who added, “The basis, your honor, is that on June 13 of this year, Ms. Nickels was stopped again with juveniles in her vehicle. One of the juveniles is a witness in the case.”

Also located in the vehicle was an amount of marijuana and a firearm, Coker said.

Larken Lee, Nickels’ attorney, argued he and his client no way of knowing if the juvenile cited by the state is a witness in the case.

“From my perspective, at this point, I don’t have any idea whether (juvenile) is a witness in the case, or how my client would know that he’s a witness in the case, so if the state has some evidence that they want to present in that regard…Obviously anybody can be a witness in the case,” Lee stated. “You can have character witnesses, crime lab witnesses, witnesses of any kind, and without some notice or evidence that my client was advised of who these potential witnesses were, then I don’t think that would be sufficient to revoke a bond in this case. I think we can all certainly agree that she didn’t have contact with a named victim, and I don’t know that there was any advisement to Ms. Nickels of who the witnesses were, or potentially would be, in this case.”

Coker argued, “What’s also troubling is this course of conduct of Ms. Nickels. Again, she’s stopped in a vehicle with juveniles, marijuana and a gun.”

Investigator Dexter McCune, of the GPD Criminal Investigation Division, testified as to the circumstances of Nickels’ most recent arrest, citing what he said was a recorded interview during which he informed her of the witnesses against her.

“When I arrested her again a couple of weeks ago, one of the victims (name withheld), he stated in a recorded interview that she got a new phone and she would contact him and have him to contact (juvenile), because she cannot contact him,” McCune said, adding that she was aware that juvenile was a witness against her in the first sexual abuse case.

Two 16-year-old male juveniles and one 17-year-old male juvenile were present in Nickels’ vehicle when the traffic stop was conducted.

Upon cross examination by Lee, McCune acknowledged he did not specifically state that the juvenile in question was a witness against her. He did, however, elaborate for the court the basis of his statement that Nickels was aware this particular juvenile was a witness against her.

“(Juvenile) was first identified as a victim, also, by his parents, and Ms. Nickels stated that (juvenile) – she did not have sex with him because she loved him like a son. I advised her when (juvenile) stated he was the middle man – he would arrange for her to sleep with other juvenile boys, so she was aware that (juvenile) was a witness against her,” McCune stated before continuing, “Based on her phone conversation with her daughter, about (juvenile), her daughter advised that (juvenile) contacted her and stated to her that he was a witness, and that he was going to sue and get $2 million, and give her $1 million.

Lee argued that there would be no way for his client to know the specifics of a random list of jurors in here case.

Meanwhile, Coker stated, “Your honor, I would argue conversely that common sense should tell Ms. Nickels that if a person has given an incriminating statement against her, that the state would intend to use that testimony against her at trial. Not only that, but she has consciousness of guilt by using a third party to contact (juvenile) because she knows she can’t contact him herself.”

Lee’s argument was that she had not been given a list of specific names of people to be avoided.

“Mr. Lee, I don’t know if she advised you or not, but the weekend prior to me arresting her the second time, she transported a 16-year-old juvenile to Savannah for the whole weekend,” McCune said in explaining what preceded Nickels’ second arrest.

“Mr. Lee, what concerns me is this officer had already advised her that he had received information from (juvenile), all right? I think any reasonable and prudent person that was charged with all the offenses that she’s charged with would make sure that she didn’t have any contact whatsoever with any name that was mentioned to her with reference to where any information was gained. I just have a problem believing that any person that’s reasonable would not understand that,” said Cavanaugh, who granted the state’s motion and revoked Nickels’ original $288,326 bond.

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