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My Mother Was Taken From Me Part 3

Updated on June 10, 2017

It has taken me a long time to write part 3 because writing about this has triggered so many memories that I had buried in my mind. It is good for me to get it out though. I found it has been really therapeutic. It didn't seem real when it happened, as it still doesn't seem real as I am writing this.

I am telling a story, I separate myself from it all so that I can go on living. If I thought about it all, I mean really thought about it and made myself go back there again, I would surely break.

Warning!! Graphic details

My family had told us that April was alive because they wanted to relieve our minds a bit and not worry about April, also, Arlo's parents did not want him to find out the truth from anyone other than them.

April was found in the back of the bathroom in a cubbie behind the clothes hamper and some boxes, she had been raped and murdered. She was stabbed in her chest and back and had a defensive wound on her wrist.

My mother had a five-inch-long cut on her neck that had severed both carotid arteries. She was stabbed 17 times in the chest.

How could someone do something like this? How could someone you love do something like this? How could someone that loved you do something like this? These are all questions that will never be answered, and I have to remind myself of this whenever they come to mind.

April and I, December 1989

The Capture

Nick had taken my moms wedding ring from her finger, her ATM card and her car and headed for Nevada. The car broke down on the way. A man found him along the highway and gave him a ride to Reno. The next day he met his parents for lunch and apparently acted like everything was fine. He checked into a hotel under a false name and then stayed the next two nights at the Y.M.C.A from what I was told. On May 9, three days after the murder my uncle Rusty received a phone call from a hotel manager in Reno. He called to say that a man named Robert James had left his duffel bag in his room two days prior and had not returned. My uncle Rusty told the manager to call the police, and my uncle called the local sheriff's department.

The next morning Nick's picture and what he was wanted for was published in a Reno newspaper. Nick was spotted and arrested later that day in Sparks, Nevada.

There was so much relief knowing that he was behind bars, but nothing was bringing my mom and April back. He was in jail, but they were gone forever, and our nightmare was far from over.

The Confession and Trial

Nick was transported back to Modesto and was interviewed. The interview lasted two hours. He admitted killing my mom and April. At first he denied the sexual assault but later admitted that he raped April after she was dead. He couldn't give an explanation for this, of course there is no explanation for this. There is no logical explanation for any of it. I have debated over the years about writing him a letter to ask why, but there will never be a reason that will suffice.

It would be two long years before he went to trial. The police wanted to be thorough and to make sure he didn't try and use any loopholes. We were called to testify. I remember the feeling that i got when I approached the courtroom. I looked through the little window and saw the back of his head. My whole body became flushed and I felt like I was going to pass out. I dropped down and the district attorney was there holding me. I told her I didn't think I could go in there. I didn't want to see his face, I never again wanted to see his face. It all came flooding back, all the fear, the horror, the sadness. Not that any of that ever went away, but I was able to push it down most of the time. But here he was in front of me and I was going to be in the same room with him.

They took me to a small room near the courtroom to calm down and to talk to me about how important my testimony was. I said that I could do it, but that I couldn't see him. I walked into the courtroom with my hand blocking my vision from him. They asked me so many questions and I was so nervous and was shaking. Most of my answers to their questions was, "I don't remember". I had tried to block it out for so long that it was hard for me to force myself to remember the details. I finished testifying with my hand still covering my eyes and was led out of the courtroom. I never saw his face. I was told that he started crying during my testimony, I'm not sure because I didn't see him. His attorney tried to have my testimony thrown out because I didn't remember so much, but the judge still allowed it to be considered by the jury.

The Sentencing

Nick was sentenced on August 31, 1992. He received the death penalty and is currently on death row at San Quentin prison in California. There were 749 inmates on California's death row as of November, 2016. Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, thirteen inmates have been executed.

It's probably safe to say that Nick will die of old age before he is ever up for execution. In the end it will be God who judges him. No punishment can ever bring my mom or April back, therefore no punishment would ever be equal to the pain and suffering he has caused to not only my mom and April but to the countless people that loved them, that continue to love them.

Nick at time of conviction

Nick after his conviction.
Nick after his conviction. | Source

Nick in 2010


Unwritten Memories

My Mom and April have been gone for 27 years now. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago and sometimes it seems like yesterday. There are so many memories that we lost by not having them in our lives, so many memories unwritten in time because of one man. My sister and I grew up without a mother and a beautiful little girl that we were blessed enough to have in our lives. My mother had a mother and a father, a grandmother and grandfather, sisters and brothers, and so many more friends and family that loved her. My aunt and uncle lost their beautiful 9 year old girl. Arlo not only lost his sister but had to also watch the suffering of his parents. April also had so many friends and family that were touched by her sweetness, her innocence, her love.

The tragedy that happened on May 6, 1990 sent a spiraling chain of events that would lead me to the reality that I now live in. Some days are harder than others, my only consolation is that they are in the presence of God, watching over us, and that someday we will meet again and I can once again feel their unconditional love.

Your opinion

Do you believe in the death penalty?

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      Taylor hall 

      7 months ago

      I don’t know if your remember my mom, her names brandie, her maiden name in Brandie Moreno, she may have been known as Brandie Hall, now her names Brandie Gerlach. She was close friends with April. We talk about her all the time. Every time we are visiting back home in Cali she always comes up. Mom misses her. I know she does. She still brings tears thinking about her. It’s awful thing to happen and I’m so sorry.


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