If the family of Nicole White hoped to learn much more about how the 28-year-old Orting woman and mother of two died, they didn’t Monday.
But they did see her killer, 30-year-old Jonathan Harris, sentenced to 26 years, four months in prison for second-degree murder.
Pierce County Suprior Court Judge Susan Serko gave him the high-end sentence, which is what prosecutors recommended.
“I want to know what you did to my daughter, and how much she had to suffer,” White’s mother, Jill Nichols, told Harris.
He and White met via a dating website, and on June 6, 2015, the two went to Jeepers Country Bar & Grill in Spanaway, where surveillance video showed Harris smashing beer bottles after arguing with White.
She went missing after that, and it was two weeks before investigators found her body wrapped in canvas and a tarp at the bottom of a steep ravine in a remote area of Kapowsin.
White’s family and friends filled the courtroom Monday and were visibly upset throughout the proceedings. Some applauded and shouted at points, and Serko and a sheriff’s deputy in the gallery cautioned that continued shouting could mean removal from the courtroom.
White’s father, Eddie Nieto, noted when he addressed the court that it was Halloween, and that parents would be taking their children trick-or-treating.
“Not for two of my grandsons,” he said.
Instead, he said, White’s boys, ages 8 and 4, have lost not just their mother, but each other. They’ve been separated, and one now lives in Alaska.
“There’s not going to be a day that I’m going to feel pity or forgive him for this,” Nieto said. “... I do wish the worst upon him.”
Brother-in-law Andrew Bishop called White “4 foot 9 with the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.”
He called Harris a “6-foot-8 monster and a coward” who deserved the fate he brought upon himself.
Harris pleaded guilty in July to second-degree murder, second-degree assault and third-degree assault.
“I’m sorry for the pain that I have caused your family,” Harris said, adding he was also sorry for White’s children. “I pray every day and night for it to be different.”
Defense attorney Jack Hill told the court that Harris denied media reports and allegations by prosecutors that he possibly stomped White. Harris has said he remembers only part of that night, and that he does not know what he did with White’s body.
The medical examiner ruled she died from blunt force trauma, and Hill argued one cause of her fractures likely was “how the defendant removed the victim from his truck — throwing the victim up and out headlong from a height 5-10 feet off the ground down a very steep, hard grade embedded with large rocks,” according to his sentencing memorandum.
There was strong evidence, he said in court, that “these injuries didn’t come from a long, enduring beating.”
The attorney also argued Harris suffered a traumatic, physically abusive childhood, and that his judgment was limited.
“If he’d had the sense to call this in, we’d be in a very different situation,” Hill said.
Harris cried at the mention of White’s name during his first meeting with Hill, the attorney told the judge.
Serko told Harris that, given the hearings she’s had with him the past few months, “I’m satisfied that that sorrow is not for Ms. White, but for yourself.”