Ok, you know I'm not talking about Saddam. This time it's Brian Nichols. This is the suspect in the deaths of the Atlanta judge, court reporter and Sheriff's sergeant. And, apparently also an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent later Friday. In his get-a-way, he pistol-whipped a reporter and took his car. He's in Federal custody now. You thought he was in trouble when he was on trial for rape? I don't know if that trial will continue, but I would think that the jury has been prejudiced against the defendant. If the defense attorney is worth anything, the first thing he'll do is petition for a mistrial.
I'm very confused as to why he wasn't shackled going into that courtroom. The day before he was found to have shanks in his socks. There are two reasons a prisoner has shanks: for protection or to do harm to someone. He didn't need protection in the courtroom, so I have to think he had them to hurt someone. The judge, an assistant DA, and someone else (I know there were 3) asked for additional law enforcement personnel for this trial. So what did they do? One female officer who was shorter, older, and lighter. I'm not as concerned about the older (TV talking heads have referred to her as a "grandma" which considering she is only a year older than me, I take offense to!) because I assume she knew her job. I am more concerned that he was much bigger than she (6'1" to 5'4", 240 to 135 pounds). I understand that she did an admirable job of defending herself. And I also know that there are small women who can subdue much larger men. But, wouldn't it have made more sense to send a large male to escort this prisoner?
Anytime you take a prisoner out of his cell, anything can happen. Apparently Nichols was just waiting for his opportunity to act. He is smart and probably took in a lot of information during the days of his trial. He saw who was around and what was happening when he was being moved to the courtroom. Any distraction would give him an opportunity to act. And apparently that opportunity came Friday morning. I'm not critizing the Sheriff's deputy who was escorting him, mostly because I don't know the details of how he came to get himself out of her custody. I don't know who he was looking for in the courtroom, it could have been the judge, it could have been his ex-girlfriend. I do know that three people are dead because of him. I won't attach "alleged" to him. There is no doubt that he did this. After he managed to leave the courtroom, he pistol-whipped a news reporter and stole his car. Why the SO didn't close down the garage and nearby streets, I don't know. I would have thought that would be SOP. Maybe there wasn't time and they figured or had information that he was already on the street.
Then, he apparently shot and killed David Wilhelm, the ICE agent. I have to say "alleged" and "apparently" here because there were apparently no eyewitnesses to this act. Reports are that Nichols wanted to know from the news reporter where Lennox Square was. That's where Wilhelm's body was found. I heard this morning that he might have been looking for this agent in particular. I have doubts about this. Unless he had set up to meet this agent at that location, he couldn't have known the agent would be there. It's now being reported that the agent's pickup, badge, and weapon were found at the condo where Nichols was arrested. So, I'll now remove the "alleged" and "apprently" attachments from this crime. I can't imagine any circumstances under which he would be in possession of those items unless he he took them from Wilhelm. The FBI had to be the ones to take Nichols into custody, had it been Customs or local cops, the chances of Nichols coming out alive were slim. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
Let's see, his crimes now include:
On trial for rape, kidnapping, and false imprisonment
Now arrested for: three counts of murder, one battery (possibly attempted murder), assault and battery, car-jacking, murder of a federal agent, car theft, and theft of federal property. Nichols is apparently a felon, so being in possession of a firearm is another charge. And maybe kidnapping or false imprisonment in the hostage situation and breaking and entering. And probably a host of other charges to come.
He went from a possibility of life in prison for the rape and related charges, to lethal injection for any of the murders. Believe me, the Federal prosecutor will ask for the death penalty and the state prosecutor will also ask for the death penalty in the deaths in the courtroom. There won't be any bargaining down to a lesser charge. He could get the death penalty off the table if he confesses to everything and agrees to life. Life will be the absolute best he can look at, but I wouldn't count on it if I were him.
What a waste. Not only of four lives, but of his own. Nichols was by all accounts intelligent. His life should not have ended this way. And believe me. Life as he knew it is over.
Update: I've heard more about Nichols' background. Apparently he has a history of holding girlfriends against their will. He did this at least once prior to the charges he was one trial for. He was in child support arrears. He was thrown off a college football team for stealing from other students.He was felon who was convicted of weapons charges and having ten pounds of marijuana in his possession. Ten pounds! That's a little more than what would be used for personal consumption. Of course I can only compare it to tobacco. I remember when my aunt went on a kick where she bought loose tobacco (maybe a pound or two?) and and a rolling machine. She had us kids roll her cigarettes for her. I'm surprised none of us took up the habit.