The trial of Billy Nichols began Monday in Mayes County District Court.
Nichols is the code enforcement officer of Pryor Creek. He is on administrative leave. Nichols is accused of knowingly concealing stolen property in August of 2011. The property in this case is a miniature schnauzer belonging to Stephanie Aylward of Pryor.
Assistant District Attorney Nick Codding told the jury this case is either going to be the easiest case or the most difficult. Codding said Aylward’s dog, Roxie, went missing on Aug. 11 while she was in Tulsa. Codding said that Aylward received a phone message from Nichols that day saying he had seen her dog, but when he attempted to catch the dog, it got away.
Codding said her attempts to reach Nichols by phone were unsuccessful. Codding said later that day, Nichols had sent her a text message saying that he was in a class that afternoon and could not return her call. Aylward’s husband, Terry, recognized the number as that of Nichols. Codding said Stephanie Aylward searched for her dog for the next 18 days, until her friend, Linda Anderson, phoned to say she found the dog in the yard of the Nichols home.
Aylward went to the house and confronted Nichol’s wife who gave her the dog. Terry Aylward confronted Nichols outside of city hall regarding his dog.
Defense attorney Terry Allen gave his opening remarks. Allen said Nichols came across the Aylwards’ dog Aug. 11. He said the dog bit Nichols and ran away.
A week later, Nichols met a man with a dog that had no tag, Allen said, and that man gave Nichols the dog to care for. Allen accused Aylward’s friends of stalking Nichols regarding the dog.
The first witness called was Stephanie Aylward.
Aylward insisted that on the morning of Aug. 11, she left Roxie in the yard and closed the gate. When she returned, she was distraught to find Roxie missing.
She received a phone message from someone named Billy, who said he had seen her dog near the credit union and it had gotten away from him heading north west. She said Nichols was able to call her because Roxie had a tag with her phone number.
Terry Aylward noticed the number on the phone as belonging to BIlly Nichols, the town code inspector. She said she called Nichols back several times but did not get an answer. Later that day, she received a text message from Nichols saying that he had been in class and could not answer the phone.
She said she started looking for the dog and kept searching for the next 18 days until her friend Linda Anderson found the dog in the yard with Nichols’ wife at their house. When she got Roxie back, Stephanie went to her husband’s office. Aylward said that her husband went with her to confront Nichols at city hall. She said Terry is not a violent man, but he was mad and she was afraid that he might punch Nichols.
Aylward said that she and her husband confronted Nichols who was in his car by the city hall. She said she asked Nichols, “Why did you steal my dog?”
Allen cross-examined, asking if it was possible she had left the gate open on the morning of Aug. 11. Aylward said she closed the gate.
Upon further questioning, Aylward said Roxie had gotten out of the yard before, but not that morning. Allen then asked why she never visited with Nichols at city hall during the 18 days since she knew through her husband that Nichols was the town code inspector. “He is the code inspector, not the dog catcher.”
Testimony will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.