NBC10Philadelphia.com - Rosemary Connors
A Burlington County man accused of murdering a local softball star in 2010 will appear in court Tuesday for an expected plea deal. But Nicole Ayers' parents say any deal with their daughter's alleged killer would be an injustice. NBC10's Rosemary Connors has been on this story since the beginning, and sat down with Nicole's family Monday for an exclusive interview.
A Burlington County man accused of murdering a local softball star nearly two years ago is due in court tomorrow for a plea deal. But the parents of Nicole Ayres say any deal with their daughter’s alleged killer would be an injustice. They spoke with NBC10 Monday night.
“She was so giving,” said her father Rick Ayres while in tears. “God, so much was taken.”
Nicole was a softball standout at Deptford High School. As a player for Fordham University, which she attended on a full-ride, she was the A10 rookie of the year. But beyond her accomplishments on the field it was the type of person she was off of it that her family remembers the most. It’s that memory that causes them the most pain.
“That was my girl,” said Rick. "I don’t have her to walk down the aisle. I won’t have her to grow old with.”
In September of 2010, Nicole was found stabbed to death in the woods of South Jersey. Stephen Headley, her accused killer and an acquaintance of hers, happened to be a registered sex offender on parole. He’s expected to plead guilty to first degree murder on Tuesday. His sentence could be anywhere from 30 years to life in prison. Nicole’s family wants life.
“He should never walk on this earth and breathe our air ever after what he did to her and the way he did it,” said Nicole’s Aunt Suzanne Calabrese. “He took her from us in such a brutal, violent way for no reason.”
“He’s not remorseful,” said Nicole’s mother Gina. “This is all a ploy just to get the judge to feel like he feels sorry.”
The family insists Headley lured Nicole out the night of her murder and killed her after she refused his advances. She was supposed to report for practice the next day at Rutgers Camden where she transferred to be closer to her family.
“We’re good, hardworking, loving people,” said Rick. “To have this thrown at us to deal with for the rest of our lives, it’s like why? Why did this happen to us?”
NBC10 spoke with Headley’s defense attorney. He claims his client is remorseful and will plead guilty on Tuesday. Deptford High School is also expected to induct Nicole Ayres into the school’s athletic hall of fame later that day.