A murderer pleaded guilty today for the machete-torture attack and killing of a Cheney man who was found burned in his car in 2011.
Taylor J. Wolf, 22, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the April 13, 2011, slaying of 22-year-old Nicholas J. Thoreson, who was found in the trunk of his burning Ford Thunderbird on Forker Road.
Wolf, who pleaded guilty before Judge Tari Eitzen, faces a sentencing range of 31½ to 40 years in prison during his sentencing, which Eitzen set for June 28.
That plea earlier in the day triggered the sentencing to go forward for co-defendant Breeanna Sims, 21, who pleaded guilty last year to first-degree kidnapping with a weapons enhancement. She had agreed to testify against Wolf, but that became unnecessary with Wolf’s plea.
“I take responsibility for my actions,” Breeanna Sims said in a hushed voice before Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza. “If I could go back and change that day, I would.”
Sims’ brother, Justice E. D. Sims, pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder and kidnapping and was sentenced in March 2012 to serve to more than 33 years in prison.
According to court records, Justice Sims believed that Thoreson had held Breeanna Sims – who had just been released days before from prison for an unlawful imprisonment conviction – against her will. That triggered an hours-long assault with a machete that ended with a gunshot to Thoreson’s head.
The Simses later told a friend, according to court records, that Thoreson was a “snitch” and that Justice Sims stabbed the victim several times before shooting him in the head at Taylor Wolf’s apartment in Spokane Valley.
“There is no way to describe this situation other than a disaster,” said Cozza, who sentenced Sims to 13 years in prison. “This family has lost a son and a brother. This was a terrible tragedy that no family should ever go through.”
All three defendants originally were charged with aggravated first-degree murder but prosecutors never petitioned to seek the death penalty. The pleas helped all three defendants avoid sentences that would have mandated life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Simses mother, Allie Hall, was in prison when her children committed the crimes against Thoreson. She told Cozza that she regretted not being there to stop the crime.
“My daughter is a strong, responsible person who was in a situation far beyond her control,” Hall said. “She truly does deserve the opportunity to live a productive life. She deserves a second chance.”
But the victim’s father, Thomas Thoreson, described the pain of losing his son, who was killed two weeks before the first birthday of Nick Thoreson’s baby son.
“My grandson, who is 3, will never have a father,” Thoreson said with tears streaming. “We are all looking forward to getting it done and moving forward with our lives.”
Debbi Thoreson, the victim’s mother, thanked Spokane Police detectives for catching her son’s killers.
“I wake up every morning to a new nightmare,” she said. “Is this really true or is he going to come walking through the door?”
Ivory Hendry is the mother of Nick Thoreson’s 3-year-old son, Tommy.
“He asks, ‘Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy?’” Hendry said. “I still don’t have an answer. I just start crying and hold him tight and say ‘Daddy looks down on you and loves you very much.’”