Murder trial ends in conviction for Nikki McKee's killer



Nicole Lynn "Nikki" McKee

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

It took a Travis County jury ten hours to return from deliberations Thursday, Sept. 25, with a guilty verdict for James Palacio, 31, who assaulted his girlfriend Nicole “Nikki” McKee, 40, over the course of three days in a Mustang Ridge trailer in January, 2013 as their young daughter, now 4 years old, watched.

“This last week was beyond difficult,” said Caryl Calsyn, Nikki’s step-grandmother, in an email to family and friends. “Emotions were all over the map.”

Nikki called both Austin and Marble Falls home and has many family and friends in the area. Caryl asked her fellow members of the United Methodist Church in Marble Falls for prayers and they came through.

On Friday, it took the jury 2 hours to sentence Palacio to 30 years in prison, with a chance for parole in 15 years. “The parole board will get a whole lot of letters that year,” Caryl said. He could have been sentenced to terms ranging from 5 to 99 years, she explained.

Neither Nikki’s mother Linda Calsyn nor Caryl think justice was truly served. “It should have been 50 years,” Caryl said, but his defense lawyers did a good job in persuading the jury to not “throw away another life.”

Linda’s mother said in a letter that although “the trial is behind us, this was not justice for my daughter. The trial was horrific and heart-wrenching. It has left me raw and ripped open.” She thanked Caryl for being with her “every step of the way” and “everyone who lifted up prayers for our family.”

For the full story, see Friday's Highlander.

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