What started in December of 2009 came to an end Friday afternoon, when a Walton County jury found 35-year-old Chad Ashley Allen guilty of the murder of 38-year-old Andrew “Drew” Nichols, and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Nichols was found by a deer hunter on Dec. 6, 2009, his body covered by debris on a rural road in Social Circle.
Four men, including Allen, were arrested in the case, beginning in January 2010. Sam Dumas Dawkins, 49; Michael Scott West, 35; Robert Vincent Lambert, 38; and Allen all faced a multitude of charges in the case, including murder and concealing the death of another.
All three other defendants to plea deals, received 20 years, and are required to serve at least 10 of those years before being eligible for parole.
"This was a challenging case," said District Attorney Layla Zon. "The Newton County Sheriff's office spent a lot of time investigating this case and a joint effort was made by the Sheriff's Office and DA's office to continue to search for the truth throughout the years since the murder. This investigation has been ongoing and moving the case to Walton County was a reflection of the fact that we had to keep an open mind, sift throught the evidence, witness accounts, and keep investigating until we got to the truth. Ultimately, the family of Mr. Nichols was able to finally see the Defendant brought to justice."
"I had a very emotional and physical week during this trial," said Nichols' sister Jennie Gunning. "I think the State did an excellent job with the case. I do feel for his family as well it will not be easy for them. We are now able to get some of the closure we have been anticipating for 3 1/2 years. Layla and the whole team did a wonderful job I am forever grateful to them."