PUEBLO — Nathan Turner, the Pueblo man who plead guilty to manslaughter, is sentenced to 18 years in prison for beating his ex-girlfriend who ultimately died.
Nicole Stephenson sustained serious injuries from Turner in January 2020, passing away three weeks later in a hospital in Denver. Her family says they can "find a way to accept" the sentencing, after a controversial case ignited #NicolesArmy .
“One of the most concerning aspects for people who experience domestic violence is, I think, the isolation," said Julia Gadek, Stephenson's Childhood Friend, on the importance of the community on Facebook that's been created.
“She should not be treated like a technicality, she should not be treated like a case. She was a person, and she was my friend.”
Stephenson's supporters once again protested outside of the Pueblo courthouse on May 24. There have already been previous demonstrations in response to the plea deal on the table. The District Attorney's office explained that Turner could have served anywhere from four to eighteen years in prison, depending on the judge's decision. Ultimately, Judge Flesher gave Turner the maximum sentence.
"We can't really say we're satisfied, but my hat's off to Judge Flesher and the crew for what they did with what they had," said Stephenson's father after the hearing.
Stephenson's Aunt Stella Vargas said she went into this hearing with "no hope" because the case had been "pushed under the table" over the past year.
Although the outcome was not exactly what they had wanted, Stephenson's family and friends hope that this case paves the way for change when it comes to domestic violence in Pueblo.
“I think that anyone who takes the life of their partner in an act of domestic violence should be required to notify those around them of who they are and what they have done," said Gadek.
“I think there are a lot of people here in Pueblo, not just women, People here in Pueblo who are going to try and do something for the Nicoles of this world," said Vargas.
Since the plea deal was filed on March 17, community members have launched a petition in disapproval of how the District Attorney is handling the case and requesting his removal.
Posts in the #NicolesArmy Facebook Page also asked that members call Judge Flesher's office and ask him to decide against Turner's proposed plea deal.
Turner could face more time after his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, May 26. On May 26 at 2:00 pm protests are being held again at the courthouse.