Judge denies mistrial motion in Nichols case

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ATLANTA - The judge hearing the case against convicted courthouse gunman Brian Nichols chided prosecutors Thursday for introducing evidence of a threatening phone call, but he refused a request by defense attorneys to declare a mistrial.

Superior Court Judge James Bodiford said prosecutors violated a court order by playing a tape of Nichols apparently threatening to kill Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard without first providing defense attorneys a transcript of the call.

But after taking a 20-minute recess to consider the defense motion for a mistrial, he said the mistake was a "technical violation" that did not merit a mistrial. He did, however, concede that the evidence would likely come up in an appeal of whatever sentence Nichols receives.

Nichols was found guilty Nov. 7 of murdering a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a federal agent when he escaped from a 2005 rape trial in Atlanta. The jury is now hearing testimony about whether Nichols should receive a death sentence.

Prosecutors this week played a June 2006 phone call from Nichols in which he said if he could have done something different, he would have "stopped on the third floor and shot your a--." Howard works on the third floor of the Fulton County Courthouse.

Nichols' attorneys filed a motion seeking a mistrial Thursday, saying they were not provided a transcript of the call before the evidence was introduced. The motion contends the "content of the call was highly prejudicial to Mr. Nichols and his right to a fair trial."

Nichols' attorneys, who have repeatedly asked the judge to declare a mistrial throughout the case, said the phone call caught the defense team by surprise and did irreparable damage to their case.

"It's a bell that simply can't be unrung," defense attorney Robert McGlasson said. "It's so clear this is prejudicial."

Prosecutors said that they only discovered the evidence on Wednesday and they did not mean to mislead the defense team.

"We're just asking now that the court make a ruling finding the appropriate remedy," prosecutor Kellie Hill said. "And we would ask it not be a mistrial. There are ways to deal with this without ordering a mistrial."

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dale88fan
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dale88fan 11/20/08 - 02:09 pm
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i think they should send his

i think they should send his lawyers to jail with him and let them all rot!

jack
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jack 11/20/08 - 02:25 pm
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Obviously, Nichols made the

Obviously, Nichols made the call/threat, so what's the defense gonna' do with it even if given a copy before hand?

roymccoy
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roymccoy 11/20/08 - 11:31 pm
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fulton county does not give

fulton county does not give the death penalty very often! you can be assured that after sentencing to life in prison, we'll hear from scumbag nichols again! he'll kill again!

roymccoy
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roymccoy 11/20/08 - 11:33 pm
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we here in cobb county call

we here in cobb county call it "the o.j. syndrome".

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 11/21/08 - 12:05 am
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Crazy. The judge will not be

Crazy. The judge will not be popular for not consenting to a retrial. I guess lawyers don't have enough work to keep them busy. I hope Nichols doesn't get a death penalty. His endless appeals will cost the taxpayer more then just keeping him locked up will. He'll never see daylight again.

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