Three new witnesses take the stand in Nichols murder trial

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HUNTSVILLE- Jurors in the trial of the man accused of killing 92-year-old Carmelita Kaser heard about the defendant's mental state Monday in the sentencing phase of the trial.

Jeffrey Nichols, 27, was convicted last week of killing Kaser's murder on Easter Sunday in 2013.

A neuropsychologist testified Monday on behalf of the defense.

Ruben Gur said an analysis of Nichol's brain and mental state showed he has had multiple head collisions, fetal alcohol syndrome and stress. Gur said such brain damage affects a person's ability to control their behavior.

Gur said Nichols' brain injuries are similar to what athletes have and cannot be reversed.

"There is no real medical treatment," he said.

But he said, people with brain injuries can adjust for a better life.

"People with that sort of brain damage perform better in structured environments."

He said such environment includes prison.

Also testifying for the defense was, Kristina Alford, Nichols' ninth and tenth grade homeroom teacher.

"He was like any squirrely 15/16 year old kid. He was more there for social interaction than educational pursuit," she said.

Alford said she was shocked when she had heard what happened because, when Nichols was in her class, he didn't have any behavior issues.

Alford shared a story of when Nichols visited her after he was no longer in her class. She said he told her he was excited about passing "Teen Challenge" a faith-based group that helps people with drug problems.

The last witness was Sherman Nichols, his adopted father. 

Sherman Nichols said Jeffrey Nichols came from an abusive home and went from foster care to foster care. Sherman said, as a child, Jeffrey Nichols was on the behavior disorder list and had ADHD. 

"He wore the stigma of a problem child," Sherman Nichols said. 

He told jurors counselors and his family worked to help his adopted son improve, but acknowledged Jeffrey Nichols did get mad when he didn't get his way.

"Jeff did have trouble controlling impulses," he said.