Witness: Suspect ‘made sure she was dead’

Shawn Pike (left) and Dustin Hartman are arraigned in connection to the homicide of Nicole Gates. (July 24, 2014)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who allegedly stabbed a gas station employee to death and the man who allegedly helped ditch the victim’s car were formally charged Thursday.

Shawn Pike was charged with murder, and Dustin Hartman with being an accessory after the fact.

Police say Pike stabbed Nicole Gates, a 27-year-old mother of three, at a Citgo gas station in Battle Creek around midnight Wednesday and then stole beer, cigarettes and her car. He and Hartman, who allegedly helped Pike get rid of the car, were arrested around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Nicole Gates. (Undated courtesy photo)
(Undated courtesy photo of Nicole Gates)

Tera Patrick could be the star witness if the case goes to trial. She told 24 Hour News 8 she was duped into helping Pike and Hartman get rid of Gates’ car.

Patrick said she’s friends with the 25-year-old Hartman and acquainted with the 30-year-old Pike. She said after switching cars, she and other people she declined to name rode with Hartman and Pike to a hotel.

“After we got to the hotel, he (Pike) asked me how it felt to drive the car of a person he just murdered and he continued to tell me what he did to her,” Patrick said.

She said Pike told her he had informed Gates he was going to rob her, but that she tried to hit the panic button when he showed up at the Citgo. Patrick said Pike claimed to have “just flipped out” and killed Gates.

Patrick said she didn’t know if Pike was telling the truth.

“He said, ‘I made sure she was dead.’ And I was trying to tell myself, like, maybe she’s not dead. And he said, ‘Oh no, she’s dead,'” Patrick recalled.

She said she was able to escape when Pike sent her on an errand with money he had stolen.

“He was wanting drugs and I said, ‘I’ll go get some drugs,'” Patrick said. “That’s how I got out of there, ’cause he was talking crazy and I got scared.”

Pike does not have any past convictions for drug crimes.

But the mother of one of his children did file a personal protection order against him, saying he stole her TV and computer. In the documents requesting that order, she said Pike’s mother had called her and told her that Pike was on heroin and had also been stealing from her.

Hartman’s bond was set at $25,000.

A judge denied Pike bond Thursday, citing his criminal history. Pike was paroled in 2012 after spending nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 16.

“He doesn’t have the chance to go out and hurt anybody else,” Gates’ mother Wendy Gates said after Pike’s arraignment hearing. “He’s destroyed our family. He has destroyed her kids’ lives. They are going to live the rest of their lives without no mother. How do we explain that to a 5-, 6-, 7-year-old?”

A memorial to Nicole Gates at the gas station where she was murdered. (July 24, 2014)A cross bearing Gates’ name and a bouquet of flowers was seen outside the Citgo Thursday. Family has set up a college fund for her children and is accepting donations online.

If convicted, Pike would spend the rest of his life in prison and Hartman could spend up to 10 years there.

Both are expected back in court Aug. 7.

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