"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by its example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
–Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Convicted child abuser who ran over 5 y.o son with SUV Fathers rights

the article states mom is no where to be found ‘perhaps’ in hiding on TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS- unreal- perhaps he killed her perhaps she was just another nuts and sluts (and lesbian)verbiage that these fathers spew out. PERHAPS some one ought to investigate v taking a convicted child abuser with a sordid pasts word…. perhaps.. I am dreaming of a world of equality… perhaps, but…
’action is the antidote to despair.’-joan biaez


by Lynn Moore | The Muskegon Chronicle

Friday July 10, 2009, 7:05 PM

Chronicle/Kendra Stanley-Mills

The collapsed tent where an accident happened July 8 at P. J. Hoffmaster State Park. A man said he fell asleep in the running sport utility vehicle before it rolled into the tent, seriously injuring his 5-year-old son./span>

NORTON SHORES -- Daniel Nichols' troubles had been mounting long before the vehicle he was in rolled onto a tent containing his sleeping family at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park Wednesday morning.

At the time, Nichols was a wanted felon prone to "doubling up" on some of the seven different medications -- including pain and anti-anxiety meds -- he was taking. He was calling the state park campground home, staying there with his wife and two children. Prosecutors say he didn't have legal custody of the kids.

Nichols told police he somehow fell asleep in the running sport utility vehicle before it rolled onto his 5-year-old son, causing serious injuries. But while police continue to investigate the circumstances behind the campground incident, they also are unraveling a host of troubles that have followed Nichols between Georgia and Michigan.

Since the incident, Nichols has talked with reporters about his military record, having served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. What he hasn't revealed is how he went absent without leave, or how when the military police finally tracked down his home in Georgia, they found his then 6-month-old daughter alone in filthy conditions.

Daniel Nichols

He also doesn't want to talk about how, when he returned and found the police at his home, he led them on a high-speed chase with his young son strapped in the back seat of his car.

Those are the details of Nichols' life that Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office officials say they have uncovered as they investigate whether the incident at the campground was truly an innocent accident.

Nichols' history -- the infant left alone for more than three hours, the high-speed chase, the awful living conditions with no electricity -- was enough for a felony conviction in Georgia against him for child abuse.

It also prompted the state of Georgia to grant permanent custody of Nichols' children to his mother-in-law in March 2007, according to the prosecutor's office. For some reason not clear to local authorities, his mother-in-law was "misled" into returning the children to Nichols and his wife, Ardis, said Prosecutor Tony Tague.

But a Muskegon County court referee on Friday temporarily returned the children to the grandmother, a Muskegon woman. For now, the custody issue is scheduled to move to trial, though the prosecutor's office may try to avoid the trial and simply have Georgia's custody uphold the order here.

Nichols was in circuit court Friday, agreeing to a petition filed by the Muskegon Department of Human Services to remove his children from his custody. Following the custody hearing, Nichols, who was in tears, said he agreed to the placement of his children with their grandmother because they need a stable environment.

"We don't have a home," he said after the hearing in the family division of Muskegon County Circuit Court. "I don't want my kids lost in the system."

When asked about his child abuse conviction in Georgia and the circumstances surrounding it, Nichols said he didn't want to talk about "the past." He was concerned that people understand he didn't mean to hurt his child in the campground.

Chronicle/Kendra Stanley-MillsA camping site remains untouched except for the collapsed tent after an SUV rolled over it and injured a 5-year-old boy.

"I just want everyone to know this was an accident," he said. "Everyone acts like this is something I did on purpose."

He said his son is doing much better after being airlifted to DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. The boy was listed in fair condition Friday, and Nichols said he's up walking and talking and being treated for injuries to his lungs.

Nichols' wife, Ardis, wasn't at the custody hearing regarding her children Friday. Authorities don't know where she was, but wonder if her absence had something to do with the fact Muskegon County has warrants out for her arrest on traffic violations.

Nichols himself is wanted too, in Georgia. He violated terms of probation related to his child abuse conviction and Tague said Georgia officials are interested in extraditing him.

Nichols' plans apparently don't involve returning to Georgia. He said he and his wife are hoping to find stable housing with the help of the Holland Rescue Mission, representatives from which were with him in court Friday. Then he hopes to get his children back.

Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to investigate the campground incident. They have seized the vehicle for inspection for any mechanical failures and are awaiting results of drug and alcohol blood screening.

Nichols told police he is taking seven different medications for post-traumatic stress disorder, including anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic and pain pills. He told police about his practice of "doubling up" on his medications, that he "self-medicates" by taking more than he's prescribed and that his mother has taken some of his pills away in the past.

His mother drove up from Georgia Friday to be present at the custody hearing over her grandchildren. She told prosecutors she'd be willing to testify that neither her son nor her wife were suitable parents.

E-mail Lynn Moore at lmoore@muskegonchronicle.com

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