Crime

‘Clairvoyant’ murder defendant dies in San Luis Obispo hospital

Nicole Honait Luxor, 62, appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in November after being charged with the premeditated murder of Benjamin Terra.
Nicole Honait Luxor, 62, appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in November after being charged with the premeditated murder of Benjamin Terra. Joe Johnston

A Paso Robles woman accused of murdering her roommate and then firing about 40 shots at responding police officers during a standoff in November died at a local hospital Saturday.

Nicole Honait Luxor, 62, died at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center after being admitted for an undisclosed medical condition on July 1.

Luxor was facing one count of premeditated murder for the shooting death of ranch hand Benjamin Terra, as well as five counts of attempted murder for shots she allegedly fired at officers during the nine-hour standoff. She had pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office referred all questions about Luxor’s medical condition to San Luis Obispo County Public Heath Services.

County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein confirmed the death Monday afternoon as the result of a “serious terminal condition,” but said that her agency is prohibited from releasing a patient’s medical information by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

David Vogel, a San Luis Obispo defense attorney representing Luxor in her murder case, however, said Monday that Luxor died from gallbladder cancer that metastasized to her liver. Vogel said he had visited her the day before her death, when she was essentially receiving hospice care, he said.

Luxor was scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court last week, but the hearing was continued because of Luxor’s admission to the hospital, according to court records. She was scheduled to be back in court Thursday.

On Nov. 16, Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the 4200 block of Old Nacimiento Road after someone reported that there was possibly a deceased person at the ranch, which held horse-training and other special events.

When deputies arrived, Luxor allegedly barricaded herself in a house on the property and held officers at bay for about nine hours until police fired tear gas into the home. Inside they found the body of Terra, who had been working for Luxor on the ranch.

Luxor is accused of firing 39 shots at officers during the standoff, with one round allegedly coming within feet of a police sniper.

Vogel said that, despite the crimes of which she was accused and the negative media coverage of her case, Luxor was “brilliant,” with a reported IQ of 170, and had lived a “very interesting” life.

Luxor was also a self-described “clairvoyant,” horse breeder and owner of the Dancing Horse Retreat in Paso Robles.

“You could say that there were a number of people who cared very deeply about Nicole,” Vogel said.

He added that Terra’s death was not murder, but the result of Luxor acting in self-defense, and that he planned to prove it during the trial.

“If we had gone to trial, I would have left no stone unturned to prove that,” he said.

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