ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Beyond the Blood is back. Brian Gene Nichols is known for his escape and killing spree in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 11, 2005. Explore the trial, conviction, and sentence in part two. 

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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:01the case now on the state of Georgia versus Brian G. Nichols it took more than three years but the trial of a man accused of a Georgia court how shooting rampage finally got underway Thursday with jury selection despite numerous delays the judge presiding over the case pledge to
00:00:16push the proceeding through there was a motion for continuance and I'm going to die now I'll ask you are you ready to proceed Nichols was on trial for rape in March of two thousand five when prosecutors say he beat a sheriff's deputy guarding him and stole her gun
00:00:32he's accused of killing a judge court reporter and sheriff's deputy at the county courthouse in downtown Atlanta and a federal agent in north Atlanta later that day how does Mister Nichols plead to the charges please enter a plea of not guilty more specifically not guilty by reason of
00:00:51insanity nichols' lawyers do not deny their client was the gunman instead they'll argue he was delusional and did not know right from wrong during the shootings eighteen jurors will be selected including six alternates that process alone is expected to take more than a month and observers say finding
00:01:08a fair jury to decide one of the most notorious cases in modern it Lana history is a daunting task AP writer Greg blues dean was in the courtroom during Thursday's proceedings today alone out of a panel of sixteen potential jurors there asked whether or not they have pre
00:01:25judged the case the leaven of them raised their hands so eleven other sixteen alone said that they've pre judge the case they've already formed an opinion it's just another hurdle when a case full of potential pitfalls and the legal community still shaken by the shootings tries to achieve
00:01:40justice in a trial that for now is being held in the same building where the crimes took place we drink some wrongness the Associated Press and are you are I just saw a much shorter so history after his arrest Nichols was taken to an FBI field office in
00:02:33Decatur Georgia where he was initially held on a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a person under indictment Nichols was then transferred to the Atlanta police station where he was interviewed by Atlanta police detective Vincent vast west Nicholas confessed on video and detailed his crimes over
00:02:55the three and a half hour statement he made to the police without any lawyer present Nichols was in custody for about two hours when he signed a waiver and agreed to make a videotape statement about the courthouse students Nichols told police he felt like a soldier on a
00:03:13mission exact revenge on the judicial system he feels is unfair to African Americans he feared he was about to go to prison for a rape he claims he didn't commit and grew weary of awaiting trial in jail and looking at a sea of black faces he describes how
00:03:33he formed the much smaller female deputy into the concrete wall like a rag doll after taking a weapon civic skipping down nearby stairs he ran across the sky bridge to hunt down the judge on his rape case he said bonds was nice but part of a larger system
00:03:51of injustice he also killed the judge's court reporter when she stood to check on the judge he said he shot the sheriff sergeant outside the courthouse so he could escape any later shot the federal agent but can while attempting to steal his car he also admitted holding Ashley
00:04:08Smith hostage in her apartment before he surrendered I was actually very impressed that they didn't shoot me when I walked out the door Nichols told police in a videotaped interview on March twelfth two thousand five he was very up front and very detailed Emmett ticketless and tell me
00:04:26what happened detective Asquith said is one of the easiest interviews I've ever done Fulton County district attorney Paul Howard said he saw Nicole shortly after he was taken into custody any appear to be someone who is proud of what he did but he did not show remorse on
00:04:45may fifth two thousand five Nichols was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury on fifty four counts including murder felony murder kidnapping armed robbery aggravated assault aggravated battery theft car jacket and a scape from authorities Nicholas subsequently pleaded not guilty to the charges on may seventeenth jury selection
00:05:10began in January two thousand seven nichols' attorneys disclosed at that time that they wanted to defend Nichols on the basis of mental health they did not disclose any further information Nichols pre trial hearing commenced mid September two thousand seven his defense attorneys submitted that they were not receiving
00:05:32enough funding nichols' attorneys attributed this to the Georgia legislature limited state funding for defense attorneys the prosecution continuing to interview witnesses and the complication a factor in the mental health defense his trial was expected to commence October second two thousand seven bull was delayed Fulton County district attorney
00:05:57Paul Howard announced he would seek the death penalty Nichols was expected to become George's most expensive to fend with his case will likely top and five million for the prosecution and defense combined the judge assigned Nichols for attorneys in addition to the costs for nichols' defense the students
00:06:20have also completed the budget for Fulton County which is responsible for at least ten million in settlement fees to the victims families nichols' parents were not available for immediate reaction as they were traveling abroad in Africa we're nichols' mother works she's a former agent for the Internal Revenue
00:06:40Service and was help instead of a tax system nichols' father is retired from the restaurant business Nichols brother mark was very upset quoting everyone knows me as the brother of the person who killed those people the only thing I can say is our hearts go out to the
00:06:56people in Georgia said Reginald Smalls Nichols uncle I really mean that Brian is a nice young man as far as we know I don't know what happened childhood friend Maxine Glover described Nichols as a normal young child playing with other kids on the block very well mannered I
00:07:18had no problem with them at all his daughter who is in high school says that she was shocked nichols' father Jean Nichols was interviewed at the start of the death penalty trial said he's been surrounded by sadness every day since the March eleventh two thousand five killings it
00:07:37never leaves you he said I don't think it's going to get any better you try to go to sleep at night and if you can that's the only time it leaves you gene Nichol said he and his wife have also reached out to the widow of judge wants
00:07:53to let her know they are sorry for her loss Jeanne Nichols said his son was mentally ill the day he shot a judge court reporter a sheriff's sergeant and a federal agent he's praying at least one juror decisive spare his son's life but he also believes a life
00:08:12in prison could be worse I really don't know if he's afraid of death he said of his son I'm not death sometimes is better than living the shooting of three people in the courthouse by Nichols lead to intense debate about the state of security in public buildings especially
00:08:31court rooms there was intense controversy about the security practices and staffing at the courthouse which unfolded over the next few months on March twenty fourth two thousand five Fulton County judge's order their own security review of the courthouse security April second two thousand five it twenty member task
00:08:54force begins looking into courthouse security may ninth two thousand five the task force announces key recommendations to improve courthouse security including installing cameras in all court rooms using two deputies to escort high risk inmates use improper restraints on inmates and the use of special doors in courthouse holding
00:09:19cells Ballaugh deputies to handcuff inmates before they enter the cell on July eighth two thousand five the Fulton County security commission releases its report outline a security mistakes made on March eleventh two thousand five the report found that the courthouse was understaffed by security personnel while about two
00:09:42hundred thirty five deputies foresight to the courthouse the report said there should be over three hundred the report recommended the civilian bailiffs be use for administrative duties so deputies can focus on security it also recommended that panic buttons installed under court room desks and that an emergency plan
00:10:04in place in case of a security breach at the courthouse on August eighth two thousand five eight Fulton County deputies are fired due to their actions during the courthouse shootings Superior Court judge Hilton fuller who took the case after local judges recused themselves due to their friendship with
00:10:22the murder judge disqualified himself in January two thousand eight bowler hat suspended the trout indefinitely because the state public defender's office amid a budget crunch had cut off funding to nichols' lawyers he agreed to be interviewed by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin further remarks made during the interview
00:10:44in twenty article subsequently published in the January thirtieth issue of The New Yorker in it fuller said the only defense open to nichols' defense attorneys wasn't sanity because everyone in the world knows he did it in his letter to the chief judge for Fulton County Superior Court judge
00:11:07fuller stated that judicial impartiality real and perceived is a critical element of the trial process and in light of recent media reports I am no longer hopeful that can provide a trial perceived to be fair to both the state and the accused Nichols ventral trial was scheduled to
00:11:28take place in July in the very court room with two of his murders were committed court judge James Potiphar brought in from nearby Cobb county rule the fundamental fairness made it necessary to move the trial to another location in Fulton County within ten days while awaiting trial it
00:11:50was discovered that Nichols was suspected of plotting a second escape tent district attorney Paul Howard office confirmed that the Attorney General astral pointed outside prosecutor to investigate nickel security at the Fulton County jail independent investigation discovered that Nichols allegedly got direct and indirect help while in custody in
00:12:14Fulton County jail not only from his girlfriend also from two deputies who reportedly paid cash for favors legal who works for nichols' lawyers and Nichols brother reports said Nichols **** long distance girlfriend to go to a home depot store and make a purchase of construction tools including a
00:12:37masonry saw a circular saw ended Jack Nichols is set of plot in a scape by song his way out of a cement block an accident the plot did not get past the planning stages and Nicholas was moved to the Cobb county jail in October of two thousand five
00:12:56on September second two thousand eight roughly three and a half years after the crimes Nichols trial beginning courtroom sixty of the Atlanta municipal court in front of bata for at eleven twelve AM Nichols officially entered his plea not guilty by reason of insanity nichols' defense team moved again
00:13:19to delay the trial but judge Potiphar to refuse it's no surprise to the lawyers and to any observers them denying the continuance judge potter for it said there's got to be a deadline and we've reached our deadline Nichols counsel a nationally known death penalty litigator from Charlotte attorney
00:13:38Henderson hill acknowledged in his opening statement to the jury that the terrible almost unspeakable things that happen on March eleventh we're at Nichols St he acknowledged that Nichols was guilty of the rape and aggravated assault of his long time girlfriend the crime for which Nichols is being tried
00:13:58in front of Barnes he argued instead that Nichols was not guilty by reason of insanity in that he believed he was in a war in which he was a slave for you Ballin against the United States and plantation politics hill said that Nichols mental illness manifested itself in
00:14:17addition to video games in which he came to believe he was a real superhero a jury of six black women to white women two black men one white man and one Asian man heard the case they were selected after nine weeks process in which more than two hundred
00:14:38and forty perspective jurors were question the prosecution opening was marked by the plaintiff audio tape of gun shots that killed Fulton County Superior Court judge Roland W. Barnes and courtroom reporter Julie am Brandao whose tape recorder left running preserved her last moments of life played by prosecutor Kelli
00:15:00hill the tape it first began with what hill called in a moment of regular Cortland tranquility of lawyers argument to the court until the first gunshot rang out then the apparent confusion of stunned civil lawyers in the second shot four seconds later they were making this claim under
00:15:21eighteen to accused Atlanta courthouse shooter Brian Nichols sat stoically as prosecutors played for the first time in open court an audio recording of the rampage two gunshots are heard on the tape relatives of the victims wept as they listened correctly to the chambers area the tape was the
00:15:47most dramatic moment of the opening day of the long delayed trial prosecutor Kelli hill played the tape over defense team objections as she laid out her case against Nichols who could face the death penalty for the March eleventh two thousand five spree that began inside a downtown Atlanta
00:16:02courthouse Nichols is accused of killing a judge a court reporter a deputy sheriff and a federal agent he was a conniving vicious cold blooded remorseless evil an extremely dangerous Keller Nichols who was on trial for rape at the time of the shooting admits he was the gunmen but
00:16:27has pled not guilty by reason of insanity it's a defense prosecutors were clearly trying to counter in their first argument before jurors that point he made a decision and this plan was not to escape just been his plan was to kill lawyers for Nichols say he was so
00:16:45diluted during the rampage he believed he was a slave rebelling against authority and Bryan Bickell war he believes that he works his way the trial being held a few blocks from the scene of the downtown Atlanta shootings could last months it took nine weeks to select a jury
00:17:08of eight women and four men and more than six hundred witnesses could be called Jason bronis the Associated Press Atlanta hill said Barnes had been shot in the head from behind as the lawyers in the rape case fled the courtroom they had to step over Barnes's body during
00:17:26opening statements hill called him a conniving vicious cold blooded remorseless evil an extremely dangerous killer who carefully planned the attack and methodically sought out his targets early in the trial the prosecution sought to cut away at the defense's plea that Nichols was not guilty by reason of insanity
00:17:48on the stand Gayle Abramson Cassie the former Fulton County prosecutor who try Nichols twice in two thousand five on charges he raped his former girlfriend said she never saw any signs of mental illness and Nichols when she met with them and his attorney during the rape trial she
00:18:08said nichols' attorney never mentioned his clients alleged mental illness either that's what Nichols demeanor was like during the rape trial she replied confident I hate to use the cliche book cool calm and collected far from semen illusions he said he seemed constantly alert in the afternoon defense attorney
00:18:29Henderson hill probe for again and again until she finally lost a quarter and a testy exchange I'm an attorney and I know what your defenses she said and it's bullshit the prosecution stated a primary witness since the hall will not be able to testify at the trial she
00:18:47has no memories of the last day she trusted Brian Nichols the beating she took on March eleventh two thousand five laughter invalid the former Fulton County sheriff's deputies now blind in her right eye and her eyelids troops her brain damage as causing confusion memory problems difficulty with speech
00:19:06and she has difficulty walking honest systemcorp doctor Gerald Liski the assistant director for the brain injury unit at shepherd center witnesses testified during the trial but she was his guard and had become friendly with them she seem to trust them and chatted with the inmate in the manner
00:19:23friends they seem to be quite familiar with each other former Fulton County sheriff deputy sheriff polls said on the stand about the case what did happen in the court they talked about the children nickel seem to have one special concessions from home for example she did not require
00:19:40him to where lex shackles as was customary the prosecution put forensic expert Ross garden on the stand to offer his findings on the crime scene at the William home Nicholas had admitted to the shoot and in a statement to police but he claimed he fired on will him
00:19:57only after the off duty federal agent pointed a gun at him Williams death is the only killing for which there is no witnesses other than Nichols Mr Ross found at the moment of the gunshot to his abdomen Mister will him was either kneeling or standing with his upper
00:20:14torso leaning towards a shooter Carter told jurors willing was shot at a downward angle through the stomach which severed Willem spine and paralyzed him the bullet struck the thumb before entering he said that the thumb injury was not possible if William had been gripping the pistol Williams Glock
00:20:34pistol was also found on damage when it was removed Turner said one woman fell he was face down but not for long Gardiner also contended that a trail in the drywall dust on the floor show Nichols turned William over and tracked him after shooting him agents pockets were
00:20:52turned inside out as if they had been rifled when he was dying on the floor of the house prosecutors concluded their fifty four count case against Brian Nichols on October fourteenth two thousand eighteen by Sean autopsy photos of his four victims the prosecution took seventeen days and seventy
00:21:11six witnesses to present its evidence Nichols the fence team began their case and try to convince jurors Nichols was insane and shouldn't be held accountable for his actions they call Nichols former girlfriend to stand as their first witness she recounted how Nichols had impregnated another woman which cost
00:21:31search and their seven year relationship the next day Nichols called her said he was going to kill himself because he couldn't handle the break up he told me he was going to commit suicide you can ten you to beg for her to reconcile but about three weeks later
00:21:46she began seen an assistant pastor at the church she testified that Nichols was waiting for them when they got home from dinner one night she said there was an air confrontation but Nichols left she said she went to bed but at five that morning she woke up to
00:22:03find Nichols in the door for better pointing a gun at her instructing her to disarm the along she testified he brought two guns duck tape none chucks in a lighter fluid he duct tape my ankles and wrists together and told me if I complied he would not for
00:22:22me and would let me go but if I didn't it would be a murder suicide she said he would kill me and then himself he also said he would cover me with lighter fluid I would be burnt to death she described a terrifying seven hours in which Nichols
00:22:39videotape her naked and raped her but let her go Towner she went to the police he would get her and her family and friends even if you went to jail for a long time the defense was trying to use this as a foundation to show how Nicholas was
00:22:56mentally ill and how we came apart when she broke up with them attorney Barry Hazen who represented Nichols in his rape trial was put on the stand and testified that Nichols insisted that the former girlfriend still loved him and wouldn't testify against them even though she brought the
00:23:16rape charges against them and the rape was so violent that she was injured Hazen recounted on the stand the median he and judge Barnes had in chambers on March tenth about Nichols increasingly erratic behavior and how dangerous his client had become he was a very fine man isn't
00:23:35said describing the judge he had known for fifteen years he put his hands on my shoulder and said you're sitting close to him to Nichols be careful Hazen testified that Nichols had turned down a plea deal which judge Barnes had agreed to that would have given him fifteen
00:23:53years in prison SF twenty five or more he was likely to get convicted which hasn't told Nichols he expected Nichols believed he was such a ladies man he could win over the jury in the second trial the way that he had in the first major is gonna Love
00:24:09Me hasn't testified nickel stolen if I'm a handsome man all we need is women on the jury and bury you don't have to worry Hazen testify that the behavior gave rise to my thought there's something wrong with this guy the defense called psychiatrists mark cutting him to the
00:24:27stand to testify about Nichols mental condition Cunningham said Nichols had an emotionally distant relationship with his parents because when he was a child they work long hours and were seldom home his father routinely drank alcohol and also smoke marijuana which led nickels to begin abuse in the same
00:24:46substance as a child Cunningham said Nichols was sexually abused by cousin and his older brother and that he was bullied as a child the stresses of his childhood is what carries forward into adulthood cutting him said he said Nichols began to show extreme beliefs in college and he
00:25:04presented a college essay that Nichols wrote in nineteen ninety two in the college essays nickel lays out his belief that there is an organized and deliberate attempt by whites to a rather keep the black race and by imprisoned in black men and keeping them from having children one
00:25:22of Nicholas's essays read if violence can be a righteous tool for the white man and surely can be used as a righteous tool for the black man if violence can be used to murder a defenseless women and children in South Africa and Vietnam then surely it can be
00:25:39used to defend the human rights of dark skinned people all over the world Nichols wrote he believes blacks should use violence to read bell arguing that if violence is right in Vietnam and the Middle East surely it can be used in south central Los Angeles Cunningham said those
00:25:59beliefs are the seeds of what later grew into delusion the sorter as he was confined in the Fulton County jail Nichols said the conditions parallel slavery labor without pay poor sanitation chains any compared his white judge Roland points to a slave master he said Nichols eventually became sort
00:26:19illusion he thought he was at war with the government and that he did not know right from wrong even as he pulled the trigger Cunningham also read it excerpt from Nichols confession I felt as though I was a slave rebellion I was a slave rebelling against the government
00:26:37of the United States and as a soldier I didn't feel as though I committed any war crimes slaves have a tendency to rebel and as a result high felt as though is my right as a human being basically to rebel as a slave and I felt that it
00:26:54was my right to declare war on the United States government the jurists deliberated for twelve hours and over two days before finding Nichols guilty of all fifty four counts on November seventh two thousand eight before the verdict was read judge Potiphar sternly warned those in attendance any emotional
00:27:16outburst will bring a contempt of court finding enough to twenty days in jail even so some spectators burst into tears on here in the first X. read on December thirteenth two thousand eight Nichols was sentenced to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole and hundreds more years
00:27:36on more than fifty charges judge Barford handed down the maximum sentence on each charge to run consecutively Nicholas was spared multiple death sentence when the jury failed to reach unanimous decision as required by the Georgia law recommended the death penalty judge by the first said if there was
00:27:56any more I could give you I what I will give the maximum sentence which is twenty years I hereby sentenced Mr Nichols to twenty years to serve consecutive two counts two three four five six seven fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty one twenty two twenty three twenty
00:28:16four twenty five twenty six twenty seven and thirty two count thirty five is another arm robbery count and you know by now the armed robbery is carries a life imprisonment and I'm going to give him the maximum of a life imprisonment that is consecutive house two three four
00:28:34five six seven fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty one twenty two twenty three twenty four twenty five twenty six twenty seven thirty two and thirty three none of this will be served on probation I'm not planning on giving Mister Nichols any probation at all neither am I
00:28:52planning on giving him a fine even though you may not like Mister Nichols %HESITATION at let's let's give a fair trial everybody %HESITATION let's let's let them continue to be innocent until proven guilty let's give everybody a jury trial if they wanted it and that's what Mister Nichols
00:29:10what wanted that's what he got %HESITATION and let's treat them perhaps better than they treated everybody else I don't wanna make it personal but at same time if I can save a life do not trust Mister Nichols ever again ever again don't trust it it's very clear that
00:29:31Nicholas was a disturbed man that he became unhinged however I do not believe the insanity defense was the right way to go there's a very high bar to reach when one claims criminal insanity and even if that is true the axe must be punished we have dead individuals
00:29:59including the judge too long for some officers and the court reporter if anyone has ever been to a court room you know that is more than likely to skate from a court room than a jail the security in a courthouse is not as tight and it's certainly not
00:30:20as tight turn transportation between the courthouse and the jail Nichols took advantage of this he planned this and there's no doubt in my mind that this individual was seen when he committed these acts these heinous atrocious acts this concludes part two of murder in the court remember always
00:30:45follow beyond the blood on Twitter at beyond blood PC run Facebook beyond the blood and as always I'm looking forward to the next episode and I certainly hope I can get the next episode out in a timely fashion

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