Fla. Storm Chaser Was Murdered After Surprising Burglars in Her Home, Killer Is Convicted
Dr. Sarah Nicholson returned to her home in Bonita Springs, Fla., in October 2017 to find three men removing items from her home
In October 2017, 34-year-old Sarah Nicholson returned to her home in Bonita Springs, Fla., to find three men removing items from her home.
Nicholson, who was a certified storm chaser for the Weather Channel, got into a confrontation with the men. During the skirmish, she was stabbed and beaten to death. Her home was then set ablaze.
An obituary published in the Southwest Times Record at the time stated she "was the victim of a homicide after surprising thieves in her home during a house robbery."
Authorities arrested Cristian Dilan and Raymond Gomez, two houseguests who Nicholson had tried to kick out. Both men were charged with murder, grand theft of a motor vehicle, burglary and tampering with physical evidence.
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Dilan, 23, faced trial last week. The jury found him guilty on all counts, despite the fact that he took the stand to deny his involvement. According to the Southwest News Press, Dilan was remanded to jail without bond and will be sentenced next month. He faces life in prison.
During his testimony, Dilan told the jury that he had no idea they were going to rob and kill Nicholson. He claimed he was under the impression that he was helping Gomez move. He testified that he had never even touched Nicholson.
But prosecutors pointed to physical evidence that seemed to contradict Dilan's testimony -- including the fact that the woman's blood was found in his car.
Jurors agreed and rendered a guilty verdict after four hours of deliberation.
In an exclusive interview with WINK-TV, Nicholson's parents said that they were relieved at the verdict, but that nothing can bring their daughter back.
"It left a black hole in our life," her father, David Nicholson, told the station.
The other man accused of the crime, Raymond Gomez, has pleaded not guilty and is in jail without bond. He faces trial later this year.
Although a third man was allegedly at the scene, he has not been charged.
Attorneys for both defendants did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.