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Thursday, February 23, 2006

CBS 46 Atlanta - Accused courthouse gunman wants statements to police thrown out

CBS 46 Atlanta - Accused courthouse gunman wants statements to police thrown outAccused courthouse gunman wants statements to police thrown out
Feb 21, 2006, 10:18 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Lawyers for a man accused of killing four people in a shooting spree that started at a courthouse where he was on trial for rape asked a judge late Tuesday to throw out incriminating statements their client made to police after his arrest because they say he was denied the right to speak to his attorney first.

The lawyers said that because Brian Nichols was actively being represented by an attorney in the rape case, he should have been allowed to talk to that attorney before he signed a waiver of counsel and was questioned the day after the March 11, 2005, shootings in which a judge, sheriff's deputy, court reporter and federal agent were killed.

Nichols' current lawyers also argued in the motion that two public defenders tried to talk to Nichols before he was questioned but were prevented from doing so by a prosecutor.

"Prior to any discussion between Mr. Nichols and law enforcement officers concerning Mr. Nichols's right to counsel, Mr. Nichols inquired about his attorney's whereabouts," the defense motion says, adding that police questioned Nichols anyway.

The defense is asking that Nichols' statements be suppressed after an evidentiary hearing. Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller has scheduled a series of hearings next month to discuss pretrial motions in the murder case.

At the time the spree started, Nichols was in the Fulton County Courthouse, facing trial on rape charges, when he allegedly overpowered a deputy, grabbed her gun and shot to death a judge and a court reporter.

Nichols also is accused of killing a sheriff's deputy who chased him outside the courthouse, and a federal agent at a home a few miles away.

He surrendered the next day after allegedly taking a woman hostage in a suburban Atlanta apartment. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Nichols' trial on the murder charges is scheduled for Oct. 3. A judge has ruled the trial will be held in the same complex where the crime took place.

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