Cash pleads guilty in fatal car wreck

Late on the evening of Jan. 6, Nicole Bruse Daniels left a play rehearsal in Port Orchard and headed home to Silverdale, stopping off first to buy Chinese food to eat for dinner with her husband Ben.

She never made it.

According to police reports, shortly after 9:35 p.m. that night Tera Lawanna Cash’s pickup truck crossed the center line of State-Route 166 in Gorst and crashed nearly head-on into the 27-year-old’s car, killing her instantly and severely injuring her passenger, fellow actor Phillip Cobb.

Cash, 29, will be sentenced today in Kitsap County Superior Court after pleading guilty to one count of vehicular homicide Friday in Daniels’ death. There she will not only face a standard sentencing range of less than six years in prison, but a devastated family arguing that just a few years behind bars is “trivial” punishment for ending such a promising young life.

Calling Nicole the love of his life, Ben Daniels described his wife in his victim impact statement to the court as a joyful, caring woman who always remembered birthdays and never left without kissing him goodbye.

A recent graduate of Olympic College, where she had discovered a passion for acting, Nicole was hoping to eventually become a psychologist, he said, and “honestly believed she could make a difference. She was a true believer in the human spirit.”

Requesting Cash receive the maximum sentence of life in prison, Daniels wrote “...please don’t allow her to destroy any more lives or cause others the pain that she has brought to me and my family.”

Calling Cash a threat to society, Nicole’s mother Deborah Orsburn wrote that the standard sentence was “trivial” and asked for a minimum sentence of 10 years.

“If (Cash) is out on the street again and behind the wheel in a couple of years, it would belittle my daughter’s life and our pain,” she wrote.

Nicole’s father, William Bruse, wrote that he could not find the words to adequately describe his loss or what his daughter meant to him, and asked the court to “keep Tera Cash off the streets so she does not inflict pain and suffering on anyone else for a long time to come.”

Cash, a resident of Belfair for a little more than a year, was allegedly under the influence of both alcohol and drugs before crashing into Daniels and Cobb that night.

She was arrested Jan. 14 at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, where she was being treated for skull fractures and other injuries.

According to court documents, a Washington State Patrol trooper investigating the scene described Cash as reeking of alcohol, and later discovered a marijuana cigarette and rolling papers in her car.

While in the hospital, Cash said she did not remember the accident, but admitted to drinking one Long Island Iced Tea before driving. Test results revealed her blood-alcohol level was .18, more than twice the legal limit.

Convicted of a felony in Georgia, Cash is still wanted in that state on four counts of forgery.

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