Jury Deadlocks on Death Penalty for Atlanta Courthouse Shooter

The jury in the Brian Nichols' trial today told the court it was deadlocked on whether he should get the death penalty. The Judge has ordered them to keep deliberating.

Prosecutors have been seeking the death penalty for Nichols, 36, who was convicted of killing a judge and a court reporter in the Fulton County Courthouse, where he was being tried for rape.

He also was convicted of killing a sheriff's deputy outside the courthouse and a federal agent in northern Atlanta.

The possibilities now: [More...]

If after further deliberations, the jury is still split, the judge may poll the jury again. If seven or more jurors are in favor of the death penalty or a life sentence without parole, the judge can sentence Nichols to life without parole.

If the majority are in favor of a life sentence with the possibility of parole, the judge can pass only that sentence.

Our past coverage of the case is accessible here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    And who is on that jury? (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 01:33:53 PM EST

    Some people who don't like (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 01:51:02 PM EST
    the death penalty, apparently.

    Prosecutor messed up I guess. (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 01:52:10 PM EST
    Fulton is Atlanta (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 01:56:47 PM EST
    trying to get a jury composed entirely of people who support the death penalty might require you to bleach it.

    That wouldn't go over well.


    amazing (none / 0) (#5)
    by diogenes on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 06:30:37 PM EST
    This guy is convicted of rape.  He undisputedly kills a judge in court.  This tears at the rule of law in this country in a unique way.  And now we'll house him for 40 years and pay for room/board/medical care?  And if he is eligible for parole we'll pay various officials to repeatedly review his case?  And maybe in thirty years they'll let him go on the theory that someone who kills in cold blood is somehow "rehabilitatable"?

    He'll never see the light of day (none / 0) (#6)
    by atlanta lawyer on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:45:44 PM EST
    He hasn't been convicted of rape. He was on trial when he shot his way out, though his defense in the murder case admitted that he committed the rape.  If the jury ultimately hangs, the judge can, and certainly will give him life without parole.  LWOP in Georgia is LWOP.  He won't be paroled.  If the jury decides he should just get straight life, the judge gets to decide whether to run them consecutive or concurrent. He'll certainly run them consecutive.  Four lifes for the murders, there's a bunch of kidnapping and carjacking charges for which he'll also get consecutive lifes, plus other charges.  He could also get charged in Federal Court since one of the victims was a federal agent.  If they do, they'll almost certainly seek the death penalty there as well.
    My guess is with the exception of 4, every death penaly defense lawyer in Ga is hoping that jury doesn't hang. If get's LWOP b/c two or three jurors hang, next year the legislature will give judges the options to give death if 6 or 7 of the jurors vote for death.  (Now it must be unanimous) Prosecutor's have been asking for it for a few years, and if Nichols doesn't get the DP, they'll certainly have a much stronger argument.

    He admitted the rape? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Fabian on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 05:11:45 AM EST

    I'm under the impression that doesn't often happen.  I'm all for LWOP for the murder charges.  If he wants to repent, rehabilitate and redeem himself, then he's welcome to do that in prison.


    Yes (none / 0) (#8)
    by atlanta lawyer on Sun Dec 14, 2008 at 09:46:17 AM EST
    I think hoping for reasonable doubt on the rape after you kill four people was a loser.  Denying it would just look like trying to escape all responsibility.  They chose to make the rape part of their "snapping with reality" narrative.