Judge sentences courthouse shooter to life

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008 10:16 AM
Last updated 12:28 PM
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ATLANTA -- A judge on Saturday sentenced the man who killed four people in a brazen courthouse escape to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole and hundreds more years on more than fifty charges.

Brian Nichols, 37, was found guilty last month of murder and dozens of other counts for the March 2005 rampage that led from a downtown courthouse to an Atlanta neighborhood and ended with his capture the next day in a suburban county.

He will likely die in prison after Superior Court Judge James Bodiford handed down the maximum sentence on each charge, to run consecutively.

"If there was any more I could give you, I would," the judge said.

Nichols was spared multiple death sentences when his jury failed to reach a unanimous decision recommending the punishment, as required by Georgia law.

The sentence caps more than three years of efforts to bring Nichols to justice since his arrest that were repeatedly bogged down by legal complications, frustrating victims' relatives and angering state legislators over the costs.

Nichols was being escorted to his trial for rape when he beat a deputy guarding him and stole her gun. He burst into the courtroom and shot and killed Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Deputy Hoyt Teasley.

He fled downtown Atlanta and managed to evade hundreds of police officers searching for him overnight. In Atlanta's posh Buckhead neighborhood, he shot and killed federal agent David Wilhelm at a house the agent was renovating.

Nichols was captured the next day in suburban Gwinnett County after a woman he took hostage, Ashley Smith Robinson, alerted police to his whereabouts. Smith Robinson was credited with bringing a peaceful ending to the rampage by appealing to Nichols' religious beliefs and giving him illegal drugs.

Nichols, who was raised in Baltimore, confessed to the killings but claimed he was legally insane and that he believed he was a slave rebelling against his masters. Prosecutors argued that he concocted the delusions to avoid the death penalty.

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors asked the jury for a death sentence while defense lawyers urged jurors to avoid vengeance.

"That's the kind of vengeful, recriminative response that begets more violence," defense attorney Henderson Hill said.

Prosecutor Clint Rucker called Nichols an "extremely dangerous" killer who would try to escape again if sent to prison for life.

Nichols' rampage prompted attorneys and judges to question their safety and law enforcement around the state to re-examine courthouse security measures.

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mable8
2
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mable8 12/13/08 - 12:32 pm
0
0
Nichols was no more insane

Nichols was no more insane than the man in the moon. He deliberately murdered the victims in his effort to avoid a lengthy penalty for other serious crimes, which he richly deserved. I am tired of people who support these claims of "mental illness" or "mental retardation" just because the felon says he/she is so. True mentally ill or retarded persons do NOT have the capacity to think the crime through, let alone how to determine what they must do to in order to cover their actions up. Obviously, Nichols was able to think his actions through--sorry defense attorney Hill, I don't buy your argument and find it deplorable that he gets life without parole when he should have received the death penalty. Nichols will kill again--his next victim will be a fellow inmate or guard; let us hope the sorry trash doesn't manage to escape. Kudos to the judge for delivering a sentence that is intended to keep Nichols locked up until he dies.

southern2
6118
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southern2 12/13/08 - 01:09 pm
0
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My heart goes out to the

My heart goes out to the victims of this beast. How long can we expect to live in a civilized society if jurors refuse to serve honestly and responsibly. These hold out, renegades should be ashamed. We see this happen again and again. The burden lies on the state legislative body to protect us from jurors who stand in the way of justice. I resent having to house, clothe, and feed this creep for the remainder of his life.

aaa
2
Points
aaa 12/13/08 - 01:48 pm
0
0
I'm sympathetic to and

I'm sympathetic to and understand the statement "The burden lies on the state legislative body to protect us from jurors who stand in the way of justice. I resent having to house, clothe, and feed this creep for the remainder of his life". However, now that our fellow citizens have failed us, the actual burden shifts to Nichols' jailhouse cohorts. Will any of them have the courage to carry out the death sentence that should have been imposed by the jurors? If one does, that inmate should be considered for parole.

jebko
0
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jebko 12/13/08 - 05:24 pm
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0
The victims get death and he

The victims get death and he gets life....

rufus
2
Points
rufus 12/13/08 - 05:43 pm
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There were 3 jurors that said

There were 3 jurors that said they were against the death penalty when they were questioned prior to trial yet allowed to be seated on the jury. 3 holdouts, imagine that

DontTazeMeBro
2
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DontTazeMeBro 12/13/08 - 07:16 pm
0
0
jurors: stupid stupid and

jurors: stupid stupid and stupid

SMITHA
0
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SMITHA 12/13/08 - 10:30 pm
0
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A death sentnce is a death

A death sentnce is a death sentence, if it happens in five years or fifty years. He will remain in prison until his death, lots of time to think, if he is capable of an intelligent thought.

DodgeD50
0
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DodgeD50 12/13/08 - 11:48 pm
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0
One more parasite off the

One more parasite off the streets

peach66
0
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peach66 12/14/08 - 12:15 am
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0
Why not the death penalty?

Why not the death penalty? Our judicial system is wasting alot of money to spare this man life after killing those folks. What is wrong with the system? In a case like this, capital punishment should be used.

SargentMidTown
8
Points
SargentMidTown 12/14/08 - 01:57 am
0
0
Someone will get him in

Someone will get him in prison.

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