Murderer Yurel Nichols sentenced to 35 years for killing Paula Zorawski in 2016


Yurel Nichols, 24, was sentenced by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna to serve 35 years in prison for the first-degree murder of Paula Zorawski in the Russian Jack neighborhood of East Anchorage in 2016, when Nichols was just 18. Nichols pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Oct. 19, 2022.

On Sept. 22, 2016, Nichols and his accomplices, Savon Berry, Michael Fitzgerald, Tommy Higgs III, and Alonzo Steward attempted a home-invasion robbery to steal marijuana and money from Zorawski. After Zorawski answered the door, she was shot and killed by Nichols. He and the other teens, ages 18 and 19, fled the scene. Surveillance camera caught the entire incident and the footage was presented as evidence.

In 2019, Higgs was sentenced to 18 years but has been paroled to supervised custody. Berry was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter, and is on parole, and Fitzgerald to nine years for first-degree robbery; he is also on parole. Steward pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced in 2019, with a scheduled release date of 2028.

Nichols originally fled to Converse, Texas, which is part of greater San Antonio, where he was tracked down by U.S. Marshals and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. Today’s sentence was for 80 years with 45 years suspended, and with supervised felony probation for 10 years. Nichols was in the Class of 2016 at East Anchorage High School, where he was a quarterback and wide receiver on the varsity football team.


  1. With good behavior in prison, this murderer will be out in less than half of the sentence time, about 15 to 17 years. So, before he’s 40. But young Black murderers don’t do well in prison.
    Paula Zorawski received a death sentence. RIP Paula.

    • Why capitalize the b in black? It is an adjective. One doesn’t capitalize adjectives.

      “There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.”
      ~ George Orwell

      • I’ll take a stab, here. Their rate of recitivism is high. Not good for the public. They join prison gangs for their own safety. They become a bitch for bigger, stronger prisoners. They have nothing to look forward to. Day in and day out is a matter of survival. They don’t educate themselves in prison. They age quickly. The food is really not very nutritious. Their mothers claim that they are innocent and call for more gun control. But if their mothers had better control of them in their youth and practiced more discipline, their sons wouldn’t be in prison. It’s just a shame that poor Paula didn’t greet this young man at her door with her own gun. RIP, Paula.

      • Hardly ever happens, Greg. The prisons are so full of criminals, they get released very early. Sometimes after only 1/3 of time served for capital crimes.

  2. Home invasion – Murder, and all of the accomplices get parole? Caught on video and the prosecutor didn’t demand revoked bail?
    The court system is fundamentally broken.

    • Mckenna is punishing the victim too that she
      shouldn’t hang out with pot-heads (and shouldn’t be one either). The public can be thankful this was a targeted home invasion and murder not a random act. They knew she had weed and money.

    • Revoked bail? Did they get bail at their arraignments? I’d have to go look on Courtview.

      If not, the time in jail awaiting trial and then sentencing counts toward their sentence. I believe most were arrested and indicted not too long after the crime, but I’d have to look.

  3. Sentenced to 18 years in 2019, and is already out on parole????

    Although the wokies lost ground when the legislature overturned SB91, it’s clear they’ve maintained a solid grip on our courts, and our prison and parole systems.

  4. Yeah its a good thing we legalized marijuana so a lot of things dont happen anymore including education! Maybe NFL will draft him when he gets out and he will be overflowing with cash.

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