No Federal Death Trial for Brian Nichols

Brian Nichols, convicted of 54 charges resulting from killings he committed during and after his escape from a courthouse in Atlanta four years ago (TalkLeft coverage collected here), was spared death last year after a jury deadlocked during the penalty phase of his trial. He instead received multiple sentences of life without parole.

As Jeralyn discussed in December, a Georgia prosecutor asked the Justice Department to bring a federal death penalty prosecution against Nichols because one of his murder victims was a customs officer. The Justice Department has sensibly declined.

[more ...]

If a federal case were mounted, prosecutors would face “significant evidentiary issues” that were not addressed in the state case. If those could be overcome, “a federal jury might well not return a unanimous death sentence, as occurred in the state trial,” [U.S. Attorney David] Nahmias said.

“In addition, there is considerable value in not disrupting the finality that the state case provided to the many victims, survivors of victims, other witnesses and the community,” he said.

As Nichols’ lead attorney, Henderson Hill, said, Nahmias’ decision "honors the work of all twelve Fulton County jurors" who carefully considered and failed to return a verdict of death. Nahmias made a wise decision.

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  • Display: Sort:
    A Victory (none / 0) (#1)
    by CDN Ctzn on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 10:35:24 PM EST
    for civilization!

    Yes, indeed, (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mikeb302000 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:17:33 AM EST
    a victory for civilization.  And coming on the heels of the wonderful decision by Gov. Richardson in New Mexico, this is turning into a good week for death penalty opponents.

    nothing to lose (none / 0) (#3)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:02:49 PM EST
    If men have nothing to lose by killing security guards in court and trying to escape (because they will face life if convicted of the original crime) then more men will try to do so out of hope of escape or from sheer vengence at society.
    I guess that's a victory for civilization.