When Nick was seven, his childhood was shattered when he was attacked and raped by a local teenage boy who went on to terrorize him throughout his teenage years. Nick responded by becoming a replica of his attacker, projecting a fierce and violent reputation in the hope that he would never feel so weak again. He became an alcoholic and drug addict, and started committing crimes to pay for his habit.
He achieved a temporary reprieve from the cycle of violence and abuse when he was arrested for smashing up a hotel room and was sent to a state mental institution for eight months, after which he tried to settle down. But his life fell apart again soon after.
On 20 December 1981, Nick was high on drugs in a stolen car when he was pulled over by a policeman for jumping some red lights. Following a scuffle, he was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, kidnapping and various other serious offences. He was placed in solitary confinement in prison without drug withdrawal treatment. He collapsed mentally and, having read the lone newspaper in his cell about the murder of Linda Mae Craig, abducted from the car park of a local shopping mall, he concocted a desperate story, pinning the murder on a former drug buddy. He was initially believed and then, when it turned out that the other man could not have done it, Nick was accused of the murder himself.
Nick was charged and convicted on no real evidence other than his own failed story, leading to more than two decades of torment and suffering on Death Row. But Nick refused to give up, educating himself while in prison, and battling to use DNA evidence to prove his innocence.