Kentucky

Kentucky officer’s killer will stay in prison at least 10 more years. Here’s why.

‘I was in a panic state. I was an emotional wreck.’ Kentucky officer’s killer explains act.

Kentucky parole board member Caroline Mudd questioned John Paul Works about why he killed officer Regina Nickles during a parole hearing Tuesday. The two members who heard Works put off until next week a decision on releasing Works from prison.
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Kentucky parole board member Caroline Mudd questioned John Paul Works about why he killed officer Regina Nickles during a parole hearing Tuesday. The two members who heard Works put off until next week a decision on releasing Works from prison.

A man who has spent 20 years in prison after shooting a female Harrodsburg police officer to death will stay behind bars at least 10 more years.

The Kentucky parole board denied parole Monday for John Paul Works, who was convicted in 2000 of the 1998 murder of Regina Nickles. Works was ordered to serve life in prison with the chance for parole. He will be eligible again in 10 years.

Works, now 42, faced pointed questions from a two-member panel of the parole board last week.

“You had to take a police officer’s life because everything in your world was spiraling out of control?” Parole board member Caroline Mudd asked after Works initially said emotions and impulse drove him to fire at Nickles.

“I panicked. I made a horrible choice,” Works told the parole board. “I fired the gun. I accept full responsibility for that. I wish I could travel back in time and undo what I’ve done. I think about this every day.”

The shooting happened on Oct. 14, 1998, shortly after Nickles and officer Eric Barkman were called about 12 a.m. to the Trim Masters factory in Harrodsburg to investigate the report of a prowler.

According to court testimony, officers found Works lying in the field. When they put a spotlight on him, he rose up and shot Nickles twice. Barkman answered with two shots, wounding Works in the right arm and left thigh. Nickles had not taken her gun out of the holster.

Nickles, 45. became Harrodsburg’s first female police officer in 1983 and was the first female officer in Kentucky to be killed in the line of duty. At the time of her death, she was a candidate for Mercer County sheriff.

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At the funeral of Harrodsburg police officer Regina Nickles, who was shot and killed while on duty in 1998, police from across Kentucky saluted as the casket was loaded into the hearse. David Perry 1998 file photo. Lexington Herald-Leader

The Department of Corrections recommended that Works go through substance-abuse treatment, but Works has not done that.

“I made a personal choice I will never do it again,” Works said. “If I wanted to continue that path, I could be doing it in here. ... Everybody knows there’s drugs and alcohol in the prison systems.”

Works will remain in the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty.

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