Jury sentences convicted Hicks Park double murderer Darren Price to life without parole

TULSA - A Tulsa man convicted of a double murder will spend the rest of his life in prison. 

A jury found Darren Price, 21, guilty of five counts Monday, including for the felony murders of an 18-year-old ORU student and her 21-year-old boyfriend.

On Thursday night, those same jurors recommended the judge sentence Price to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 45 years.

It took jurors about six hours to reach the decision. As Price left the courtroom, his attorney Jack Gordon wrapped his arms about the 21-year-old.

"Ain't nobody else hugged him in his life. Someone needs to. Nobody else hugged him at home. He got it from Mark, Steve, and me for the last two and a half years" said Gordon.

The judge told jurors they had three options to recommend: death, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty for the murders.

According to prosecutors, Carissa Horton and Ethan Nichols were robbed and shot execution style while walking in Tulsa's Hicks Park in September 2011.

After the decision, Ethan's mom Teresa Nichols said "I love you hunny. I know you're there, I know you're looking down on us. At least it's finally that time where we can say 'your death has been avenged'. He didn't get off free, he's taken care of, he's not going to hurt anyone else."

The Nichols' are okay that jurors didn't convict Price to death. They find comfort knowing he will never get out of prison. It's a different story for Carrisa's dad Rod Horton. Horton believes an eye for an eye.

"I miss my daughter. I wish she were still here" he said.

On Tuesday, jurors recommended prison time for Price's lesser convictions, including possession of a firearm as a felon.

Several jurors cried Wednesday as the victim's parents read statements in court.

Scott Nichols, Ethan's father, said he "couldn't have asked for a better son."

He said he struggled with many fearful, sleepless nights for months following Ethan's death.

He said his family moved to a new house so they would not have to drive by Hicks Park every day.

"With God's help I've been able to get through each day," he said. "My mind is still thinking about our lost child constantly."

Teresa Nichols, Ethan's mother, described her son as "an amazing young man" with a "goofy sense of humor."

Overcome with emotion while on the stand, she said time has eased some of her pain, but she still struggles.

"Sleep still comes hard at times," she said. "My mind tries to go back to the murder scene in those first moments before their lives were taken."

Rod Horton took the stand next.

He said every time he drives by a jogging trail, he is reminded of his daughter, Carissa.

He said after her death, it "seemed like the world stopped turning."

Carissa's mother, Susan Gardner, described her daughter as a "one of a kind, special, unique young lady who loved God and people."

She said Carissa and Ethan planned to get married and travel to Europe for their honeymoon.

"Our futures have been stolen as well as hers," Gardner said.

Jurors also heard testimony from one of Price's ex-girlfriends. She said Price beat her up multiple times and even threatened to kill her "with no mercy."

She recalled Price telling her "That if I told police what he done, he'd kill me in front of them and they'd have to kill him."

Later in the day, Price's mother pleaded for her son's life to be spared, describing how he was a product of a bad childhood.

Another defendant, Jerard Davis, pleaded guilty to murder charges last year and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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