900 potential jurors answer questionnaires

Accused courthouse shooter Brian Nichols listens to court proceedings in this May 25, 2005, file photo taken in Atlanta. The jury selection process in Nichols' murder trial began Thursday, Jan 11, 2007. Nichols is accused of murder, kidnapping and other charges in a shooting spree that began at the Fulton County Courthouse, leaving a judge, court reporter, deputy and federal agent dead.

ATLANTA - As many as 900 potential jurors in the trial of Brian Nichols, the man accused of courthouse killings in 2005, have filled out questionnaires as the lengthy jury selection process prepares to enter a new phase.


Thirty to 50 more people who could not show up for personal reasons since jury selection began Jan. 11 will fill out questionnaires Feb. 9, and individual questioning by attorneys in the case of the potential jurors will begin Feb. 26, Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller said Thursday.

Those who have filled out questionnaires represent less than one-third of the 3,500 jury summonses that were sent out.

Many people who were sent summonses were excused for personal reasons or because they no longer live in Fulton County, Judge Fuller said. Others did not show up.

"We're pleased with the results so far," Judge Fuller told reporters. "The overall impression I've got so far is that it has been responsive and smooth."

Eventually, 12 jurors will be selected for Mr. Nichols' trial. Jury selection could last three or four months.

Opening statements might not occur until April or May.

A hearing is set for Feb. 2 to announce whether the lawyers have agreed to remove some potential jurors because of responses from the questionnaires.


BACKGROUND: Brian Nichols, 35, was being escorted to a courtroom in the Fulton County Courthouse for the continuation of his retrial on rape charges when he allegedly beat a deputy, stole her gun and went on a deadly shooting spree on March 11, 2005.

THE VICTIMS: He is accused of killing the judge presiding over the rape trial, Rowland Barnes; a court reporter chronicling the proceeding, Julie Ann Brandau; a sheriff's deputy who chased him outside, Hoyt Teasley; and a federal agent he encountered at a home a few miles away that night, David Wilhelm. Mr. Nichols surrendered the next day after allegedly taking Ashley Smith hostage in her suburban Atlanta home.