Gunman calls victim 'a hero'
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
A 19-year-old man who crippled a teenager in a 2008 armed robbery tearfully apologized to his victim yesterday in court before being sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The defendant, Nicholas Nichols, was also ordered to pay $501,000 in restitution for medical expenses incurred by the state in treating Nichols' victim, Timothy Lapitan.
Lapitan was shot while protecting his mother during a May 2008 armed invasion of their Aiea home by Nichols and several co-defendants.
"It should be me in that wheelchair," Nichols told Lapitan in court. "You are a hero for what you did."
Lapitan said outside court he thinks the primary responsibility for his injuries is with a former girlfriend who instigated the armed robbery of his home.
"I don't blame Nick for what happened," he said. "When he gets out, I hope the best for him."
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced Nichols to serve up to 30 years in prison for the robbery, kidnapping and assault of Lapitan and his family, as well as for the unrelated assault of another man.
She ordered Nichols to serve at least five years behind bars before he is considered eligible for parole.
Although Nichols is "a young man, he's shown a lot of violence for his tender age," Ahn said.
The mothers of Lapitan and Nichols each spoke on behalf of their sons at the hearing.
Teresita Lapitan said she holds out hope that her son will be able to walk again.
"He's a hero. He saved my life," she said.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell represented the state in the case. The defense attorney was Walter Rodby.