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September 17, 2014

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Crime:

Decades after daughter’s murder, mother still fighting to keep killer behind bars

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Cathleen Allison

Surrounded by paperwork related to the case, Carol Nicoletti talks from her Sparks home on Feb. 1, 2013, about the upcoming parole hearing she will attend in an effort to keep her daughter’s killer in prison. Nineteen-year-old Susan Figeley Macias was killed in May 1992 by her husband, Simon Macias. Nicoletti says a botched investigation resulted in Macias being sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. She has attended six parole hearings so far in an effort to keep him behind bars.

Protest for No Parole

Carol Nicoletti talks from her Sparks home on Feb. 1, 2013, about the upcoming parole hearing she will attend in an effort to keep her daughter's killer in prison. Nineteen-year-old Susan Figeley Macias was killed in May 1992 by her husband, Simon Macias. Nicoletti says a botched investigation resulted in Macias being sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. She has attended six parole hearings so far in an effort to keep him behind bars. Launch slideshow »

The ritual has come every two to three years, more often than a presidential election or an Olympic sporting event.

This time it occurs Thursday, and 68-year-old Carol Nicoletti is terrified.

That’s when she will attend a parole hearing and, for the sixth time, read a victim-impact letter, begging the board’s commissioners to keep her daughter’s convicted killer behind bars. Thursday actually marks the seventh parole hearing for Simon Macias, but Nicoletti missed one in 2007 because of a nervous breakdown.

“It’s been totally devastating, especially when it comes this time of year because it opens all the wounds again,” said Nicoletti, who lives in Sparks.

In May 1992, Macias was married to Nicoletti’s daughter, 19-year-old Susan Figeley, when he stabbed her to death, wrapped her body in duct tape and discarded it in a then-desert area of Henderson.

A bungled investigation followed, leading prosecutors to offer a plea bargain in the case, according to Sun archives. In December 1993, Macias pleaded “no contest” to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges related to pornographic images of his wife’s twin nieces found on a camera in his car.

Twenty years later, one of those nieces has partnered with her grandmother to fight Macias' possible release.

Nicole Figeley, now 24, launched a Facebook page in December, urging the virtual community’s support via signatures and letters to the parole board. The page describes Susan Figeley as someone who could “light up the room with her bright blonde hair and beautiful smile.”

The family also has scoured Reno-area neighborhoods and businesses asking for signatures on a petition opposing Macias’ release from prison. So far, they have collected about 9,000 signatures, Nicole Figeley said.

“The Internet hasn’t been as successful as door-to-door, but we walk everywhere,” she said.

The physicality of the mission is what, in part, prompted Nicole Figeley to voluntarily help her grandmother this time. Nicoletti, who turns 69 in March, recently had a surgery, making the signature-gathering process more difficult.

“It was harder for her to cover as much ground,” said Nicole Figeley, who lives in Reno. “It’s a huge part of our family’s responsibility to keep fighting.”

Nicoletti said she learned about Macias’ first parole hearing a month before it happened in January 1997. Petrified, she sprang to action.

“I threw my coat on, and I started walking to houses,” Nicoletti said.

The overwhelming support shocked her. Many people simply grabbed the pen before she could finish her family’s story, she said.

She collected about 13,150 signatures to present to the parole board that first month. Since then, Nicoletti said she has collected more than 100,000 signatures total.

The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, made up of people appointed by the governor, can deny parole for periods up to three years, according to Nevada law. If an inmate has 10 or more years remaining on a sentence, however, the board can deny parole for up to five years.

The parole board has a chairman and six commissioners — three from Carson City and three from Las Vegas — all with backgrounds in law enforcement, criminal law, social work, therapy or advocacy of victims’ rights, per Nevada law.

Family members said the parole hearings never get easier, especially coupled with the added worry others will assume Macias has served enough time as the years since the murder pass. Macias is incarcerated at Lovelock Correctional Center in Northern Nevada, according to inmate records.

Nicole Figeley and her grandmother said they feared for their family’s safety but also the community at large if Macias were released.

“It’s almost like every time the parole board hearing comes, we’re exhausted,” Nicole Figeley said. “We’re just praying they make the right decision.”

Nicoletti said her daughter, who worked at the Peppermill in Las Vegas, came home to Sparks about two weeks before her death. Susan Figeley confided in her mother that she had learned undisclosed “awful things” about Macias and planned to leave him.

But her kind-hearted daughter didn’t want to leave her husband until she knew he had more money, Nicoletti said.

“She was the most caring person,” Nicoletti said. “She would stop and help anyone in need. The sad thing about it is it cost her life.”

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  1. Shameful that parole board makes decisions to keep the costs of incarceration "within budget." No way to deal with violent "people." Let's bring back chain gangs--pound big rocks into little rocks and pour the gravel between thick walls--we have lots of desert land to fill with prisons--we could have another growth industry leasing out prison cells--to the feds, ICE and California.

  2. Where is the Facebook page? Would like to share it.