Man who stabbed ex-girlfriend at Service High gets 42-year sentence

Casey Grove
Nick Chamberlain attends his sentencing hearing on Friday, April 19, 2013.
Marc Lester
Lory Miebs said she felt some closure after hearing the 42-year sentence a judge handed down to Chamberlain on Friday, but said she wasn’t ready to forgive Chamberlain yet.
Marc Lester

After stabbing his ex-girlfriend more than 70 times with a pocketknife and as she clung to life in the woods near Service High School, Nicholas Chamberlain stood over her.

"I put my hands up, and I asked, 'What do you want? Why are you doing this?' " Lory Miebs, the victim, told a judge Friday at Chamberlain's sentencing hearing. "He said the three words that still haunt me: 'Just hold still.' "

A passing skier who tried to stop Chamberlain had called 911. Chamberlain fled when he heard sirens coming. Paramedics and doctors patched up Miebs as best they could, saving her life.

Chamberlain pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault in July 2012. On Friday, Judge Michael Wolverton sentenced him to serve 42 years in prison.

Miebs, now 20, said she is recovered. But it was clear Friday that the emotional trauma remains: She gave a statement in court, not at the lectern victims often use, but at a microphone farther away from Chamberlain. Miebs said later she was still afraid of him, even while he sat handcuffed in court, head down.

When they first met, Miebs could tell Chamberlain was a lonely guy, she said. She reached out to him to be his friend. Then Chamberlain asked her to be his girlfriend and she accepted, Miebs said. The two dated for about nine months, Chamberlain later told police.

It was his first romantic relationship, a clinical psychologist, Marty Beyer, said earlier in Friday's hearing. Beyer, testifying on Chamberlain's behalf, said his father rejected him at a young age. Chamberlain grew up in poverty and showed symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, Beyer said.

Chamberlain was controlling and manipulative, Miebs said. He hated it when she spent time with her other friends, and Miebs broke up with him, she said. Beyer said Chamberlain did not have the emotional maturity to deal with the rejection, which Beyer compared to Chamberlain's feelings of rejection from his father.

A "volcano of old feelings" erupted, Beyer said.

The day of the breakup, Chamberlain followed Miebs home, said Lynne Miebs, the victim's mother. Lynne confronted him at the front door, she said.

Lory asked her mother to call the police, but Lynne wanted to talk to Chamberlain. She eventually told him to leave. But Chamberlain just stood there, staring straight ahead, Lynne said.

"It gave me the oddest feeling, like he was making a decision, like he was deciding what he was going to do and didn't really care what I told him to do," she said. "It scared the daylights out of me."

Chamberlain finally left. Lynne told her daughter she was not allowed to be alone with him. Lory agreed but said she still wanted to be Chamberlain's friend. After a two-week vacation, Lory saw him at school.

Chamberlain begged her to accept a silver ring he had bought, she said. Lory said she didn't want it but gave in when he started crying. She walked with him on a trail behind Service. Chamberlain told her to close her eyes.

"I looked up, and he stabbed the knife in my neck," Lory said.

In a charging document, police described the blade as 2 1/2 inches long. Plunging it into Miebs dozens of times, all over her body, Chamberlain stabbed her with such force he bent the knife blade, the charges said. He opened another saw-like blade and continued attacking her.

"He put that knife into my daughter 76 times. He stabbed her in her head, in her neck, in her face, in her mouth, in her chest, in her arms, in her back -- everywhere," Lynne Miebs said. "He meant to take her life."

Lory's screams got the attention of two students, who alerted a nearby skier, Ken Schultz. As Schultz approached, Chamberlain slashed at him with the knife.

"I saw a look on a human being's face that I've never seen before and hope to never see again," Schultz said in court. "It was a crazed wildness I can only describe as animalistic."

Then Chamberlain did something "diabolical," Schultz said: He stood over Miebs and whispered to her.

"It was like he had this power over all of us," Schultz said. "He knew he had this power. You could hear the sirens in the distance. You knew this was coming to an end. It was very creepy."

Chamberlain walked away, leading police on an hour-long manhunt. They later found his bloody jacket, T-shirt and the knife -- its blade bent into a "J" -- along the trails, the charges said.

Whenever Chamberlain is released from prison, her daughter will likely consider moving out of Alaska, Lynne Miebs told the judge.

"When you release him from jail, you put her in jail. You put her in fear for her life and safety, and I hope you'll take that into consideration," she said.

Chamberlain's lawyer, Joseph Van De Mark, argued for a sentence with more suspended time. Putting Chamberlain, who turns 20 on Tuesday, in prison for several decades would turn him into a career criminal, Van De Mark said.

"Teenagers are different. We can't shove them into this box called adulthood. Nicholas fits even less," Van De Mark said. "If he'd have gotten the help he needed, way back when, this never would've happened."

Chamberlain has since earned a high school diploma while behind bars. He gave a short, tearful statement, in which he apologized to Lory Miebs and her family. He said his emotions were out of control.

"My actions were terrible, and traumatizing, and deserving of punishment," he said. "However, I still ask for mercy, to have a more significant portion of my sentence be suspended, so that I might have a second chance at life and be able to improve and redeem myself and let it be a reminder to never make this mistake again."

Wolverton spoke directly to the two young people, first to Lory Miebs.

"You were meant to be in this world to do something good, and you are," Wolverton said. "I just bet you'll do well in life. And Mr. Chamberlain, I hope you do, too. There's nobody in this room that wants you to fail."

Still, it was a "flat-out horrific crime," Wolverton said. The judge agreed with prosecutor Clint Campion's recommendation and handed down a sentence of 62 years with 20 years suspended.

"It is simply miraculous that Lory is here," Wolverton said.

Lory's family hugged her, some kissing her on the cheek, in the hallway outside the courtroom. She said she was happy about the length of the sentence and was ready to put the attack in her past. Lory said she felt some closure but was not ready to forgive Chamberlain.

"At some point, but forgiveness has to be earned. It's not something that you should just be given outright. Maybe in a few years, but right now, it's just one of those things that has to be earned," she said.



Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.