PARKER COUNTY —
A Parker County judge has sentenced the man who shot and killed 38-year-old Tracy Lee Nickel during a violent confrontation over stolen guns in February 2009 to 10 years in prison.
After Caden Hodges Newell, 31, originally charged with murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Oct. 23 as part of the plea arrangement, Judge Graham Quisenberry, of the 415th District Court, sentenced Newell Tuesday.
Given all the circumstances of the case, they felt the manslaughter plea was the right thing, Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise said.
Newell shot Nickel during an altercation at a residence in the 4500 block of East Highway 199 in Reno on Feb. 28, 2009, and Nickel later died at the hospital.
Lucas Ryan Doyle, of Fort Worth, reportedly asked Newell to accompany him to Nickel’s house as Doyle confronted Nickel and attempted to get back guns that Doyle believed Nickel had stolen.
Doyle knew that Nickel was a ranking member of the Aryan Circle and wanted Newell to have his back, DuBoise said. Nickel had recently finished serving a 15-year sentence.
After the men arrived at the house, the stories diverge but prosecutors believe Doyle grabbed a large stick or broom, pushed the front door open and began confronting Nickel, hitting him with the stick.
Nickel jumped up, grabbed a knife and stabbed Doyle in the abdomen, DuBoise said.
Newell, outside, saw the men fighting just inside the doorway and saw that Nickel had a weapon. He then pulled out a .380 pistol and shot Nickel in what he believed to be the arm, according to DuBoise.
The men then fled.
The bullet traveled through Nickel’s forearm, exited the elbow and entered Nickel’s chest and heart area, DuBoise said.
Nickel was pronounced dead later that evening at the hospital in Azle, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“We believe that Mr. Newell had a very strong self-defense and defense of a third party claim,” Reagan Wynn, attorney representing Newell, said shortly after Newell pleaded guilty.
DuBoise said prosecutors disagreed. They believe the men provoked the fight.
Given the circumstances of the case, the district attorney’s office pleaded the case to manslaughter, which is recklessly taking the life of someone rather than knowingly and intentionally killing them.
They met with Nickel’s mother and sister on numerous occasions, laying out it all out to them and, in the end, they were supportive of the decision, DuBoise said.
Newell had no significant criminal history, DuBoise said.
Prior to Tuesday, Newell had been free on $75,000 bond since turning himself to authorities on March 2, 2009.
Newell must serve at least a quarter of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, DuBoise said.