Harold Nichols was sentenced to death by the State of Tennessee for a sexual assault and murder. According to court documents Harold Nichols who is a serial rapist would sexually assault the victim, Karen Pulley, before striking her over the head several times causing her death. Harold Nichols was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
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The proof showed that on the night of September 30, 1988, Harold Nichols broke into the house where the 21-year-old-victim, Karen Pulley, lived with two roommates in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After finding Pulley home alone in her upstairs bedroom, the defendant tore her undergarments from her and violently raped her. Because of her resistance during the rape, he forcibly struck her at least twice in the head with a two-by-four he had picked up after entering the house. After the rape, the defendant, while still struggling with the victim, struck her again several times with great force in the head with the two-by-four. The next morning, one of Karen Pulley’s roommates discovered her alive and lying in a pool of blood on the floor next to her bed. Pulley died the next day. Three months after the rape and murder, a Chattanooga police detective questioned the defendant about Pulley’s murder while he was in the custody of the East Ridge police department on unrelated charges. It was at this point that the defendant confessed to the crime. This videotaped confession provided the only link between Harold Nichols and the Pulley rape and murder.
The evidence showed that, until his arrest in January 1989, Harold Nichols roamed the city at night and, when “energized,” relentlessly searched for vulnerable female victims. At the time of trial, the defendant had been convicted on five charges of aggravated rape involving four other Chattanooga women. These rapes had occurred in December 1988 and January 1989, within three months after Pulley’s rape and murder. The convictions presented to the jury were as follows:The defendant was indicted for feloniously engaging in sexual penetration of T.R. on December 27, 1988, by the use of force or coercion while the defendant was armed with a weapon a cord. The defendant pled guilty to the offense of aggravated rape. The defendant was indicted for feloniously engaging in sexual penetration anal intercourse with S.T. on the 3rd day of January, 1989, by the use of force or coercion while he, the defendant, was armed with a weapon a pistol. The defendant pled guilty to aggravated rape. The defendant was indicted for feloniously engaging in sexual penetration fellatio with P.A.R. on January 3, 1989, thereby causing personal injury to her. The defendant was also indicted for feloniously engaging in sexual penetration vaginal intercourse with P.A.R., on January 3, 1989. The defendant pled not guilty and the jury found the defendant guilty of aggravated rape in each case. The defendant was indicted for feloniously engaging in sexual penetration, vaginal intercourse, with P.A.G. on December 21, 1988, by the use of force or coercion while he, the defendant, was armed with a weapon a knife. The defendant pled not guilty and a jury convicted the defendant of aggravated rape.