Guilty Verdict Found In Midland Hate Crime Trial

by Jen Kastner

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - At approximately 5 p.m. on Wednesday, a Midland County jury found Drew Nickason guilty of stabbing African American Levi Drone in the arm, because of biases and prejudices towards the color of Drone's skin.

The stabbing took place last December when a fight broke out between both men and their groups of friends in the parking lot of the Midland Buffalo Wild Wings.

The jury took only two and a half hours to deliberate. After the verdict was read, Nickason's sister, Jeri Nickason, told us, "[Drew's] not racist at all. We have every race you can think of in our entire family."

In the prosecution's final argument to the jury, they said the attack was absolutely racially motivated and that six witnesses who took that stand proved that claim by reporting that Nickason and his friends yelled out the "n-word", "Heil Hitler" and "White Power" during their instigation of the fight, and during the fight itself.

The defense argued that the parties in both groups were drunk, which let to the fight, and that was both parties' fault. However, Drone says nobody from his group was under the influence of alcohol the night of the stabbing.

The defense also argued that Drone was the only witness who could point out Nickason as the stabber. None of the other witnesses were able to do that.

When asked how her brother could have gotten caught up in this, Jeri Nickason told us,"I guess [he was] hanging out with the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place. He's a great guy and one day he'll get out and prove to everybody that he's a great guy."

Nickason will be sentenced this Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at the Midland County Courthouse. He faces a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 99 years or life behind bars. However, the 5-year minimum could potentially be raised to a 15-year minimum based on prior convictions he holds.