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Court reinstates appeal in Sikeston murder

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY - The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated the appeal of a man convicted of murdering a Sikeston gas station clerk during a 1998 robbery.

After the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District in St. Louis upheld his convictions in October 2002, Darius Nicholson, acting as his own lawyer, filed a follow up appeal in which claimed his trial counsel was ineffective.

Nicholson submitted the appeal in the wrong jurisdiction, however, and the filing deadline had passed by the time he correctly filed in Cape Girardeau County circuit court, where his original trial was held. As a result, circuit Judge John Heisserer dismissed the case.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that under state law and court rule, Heisserer was obligated to accept Nicholson's motion as timely filed.

On June 6, 1998, Nicholson fatally shot clerk Charles Garrett while he and some accomplices robbed Kellett's gas station in Sikeston.

In June 2001, a Cape Girardeau County jury found Nicholson guilty of second degree murder, armed criminal action and first degree robbery.

Heisserer sentenced him to concurrent sentences of life in prison on the murder count plus 30 years on the other charges.

Nicholson, 24, is incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston.

The case is Darius Nicholson v. State of Missouri.