Ga. Courthouse Killer Gets Life; Holdouts Spare Him From Death Penalty
Posted Dec 15, 2008 1:25 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
A man who murdered a judge and others in a Georgia courthouse killing spree has been sentenced to life in prison rather than the death penalty that prosecutors sought.
Brian Nichols, 37, was sentenced on Saturday to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole, plus hundreds of years of additional time on more than 50 charges, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was found guilty last month of murdering four people, including the judge who was scheduled to oversee his rape trial, as he escaped from a courthouse in downtown Atlanta in March 2005.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he had talked to a couple of jurors and was told that some on the panel had refused to consider the possibility of giving Nichols a death sentence, the newspaper recounts.
"The two jurors, who indicated they were among the nine voting to put Nichols to death, reported one of the holdouts even worked a crossword puzzle while the panel deliberated Nichols’ fate for 40 hours over four days."
This was frustrating news to Howard, since Nichols had offered to plead guilty a year ago, in exchange for a life sentence. His trial was hugely expensive because of the many conflicts created by the murder of a judge and crimes committed against other justice system personnel within the courthouse building.
Nichols had relied on an insanity defense at trial, and a defense psychologist testified that he was delusional at the time of the crimes.
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Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Nichols friend blames himself"
ABAJournal.com: "Verdict in Ga. Courthouse Slaying Case: Guilty on All Counts"
ABAJournal.com: "2 Ga. Lawyers Testify: What Happened the Day When Judge Barnes Was Murdered"
ABAJournal.com: "GA Judge in Capital Defense Cost Maelstrom Lawyers Up"