SHERIDAN — A woman accused of helping her boyfriend kidnap and torture his ex-wife plead not guilty to all five charges filed against her Thursday at Sheridan County District Court. She attended the hearing with her attorney via closed-circuit television from Judge William Edelman’s courtroom in Buffalo.
Nicole Wight was charged with felony kidnapping, felonious restraint, two counts of being an accessory before the fact — both felonies — and misdemeanor battery in an incident that occurred Aug. 15 and 16. Wight and her boyfriend Aaron Arnold allegedly held Arnold’s ex-wife Bearl Arnold captive, beat and tortured her, and stole both money and property from her.
If convicted, Wight faces a maximum 61 years and six months in prison and a fine of $80,750.
According to the affidavit filed by the court, Aaron Arnold invited his ex-wife to his home under the guise of reconciling their marriage. When Bearl Arnold refused to allow him to take nude photographs of her, he beat her and invited Wight to come to his home and join him.
The affidavit also alleges that Arnold and Wight drove Bearl Arnold to the home where she was living with Susan Scofield to retrieve the title to the truck Bearl Arnold had won in the divorce. Arnold also allegedly forced his ex-wife to write him a check for $1,500 and sign blank checks. Bearl Arnold said that Wight used her credit card to purchase a one-way plane ticket to Arizona and that Wight and Arnold drove her to the airport in Casper.
Wight and the Arnolds were stopped at the gate when Casper authorities became concerned about Bearl Arnold’s injuries.
In addition to the plea, Wight’s attorney Donald Tolin filed two motions with the court. One motion asked for a joinder so Wight and Arnold can be tried together. The other motion asked for a change of bond.
Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett asked for time to review the motion for joinder, saying the prosecutor’s office wanted to make sure there was no avenue for a mistrial before offering a position on the motion.
Judge Edelman granted 30 days for the attorneys to review the motion before he would make a decision on it.
The current bond orders that there be no contact between Wight and Arnold despite the two being in a romantic relationship. Tolin called the bond punitive because, he said, the case was based on the authorities believing Bearl Arnold’s story rather than Wight’s and Arnold’s story, and claimed Bearl Arnold’s living with witness Susan Scofield was no different than Wight living with Arnold.
Edelman denied the motion and ordered that the separation ordered by the bond continue.
Scofield was able to verify that Bearl Arnold is no longer living in her home.