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Brian Nichols "Atlanta Courthouse Killer" Defense Team Out Of Money

By Pamela Jean     Sep 18, 2007 in Crime
Brian Nichols defense team is calling on the county to pay more for his defense. Imprisoned since 2005 for the shooting death of an Atlanta judge as well as 3 others, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. His 4 lawyers need more money to fight.
In 2005 Brian Nichols was on his way to court in Atlanta, Georgia to face the judge regarding the rape charges rendered against him. He overpowered a female deputy, took her gun and shot his way out of the courtroom, killing the judge as well as 3 others. He then went on the run, eventually holding Ashley Smith hostage for over 7 hours in her apartment. Nichols had tied her to her bed and demanded drugs. She wrote a book about her ordeal entitled "Unlikely Angel" in which she talks about how she talked with Nichols about God and read to him from the book "A Purpose Driven Life" until Nichols agreed to surrender to authorities.
As of February 2007, Atlanta city appointed attorney's have spent $1.2 million dollars on his defense. His case has yet to come to trial, but is slated to be aired live on Court TV beginning at the end of September of 2007.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Nichols has however, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without parole. This is apparently not good enough for the prosecutors, and the plea deal has been rejected. According to them, death is the only just reward for the crimes this man has committed.
And so the battle continues. In a 2 hour presentation, complete with 3 large video screens, Nichols defense team of 4 pled their case to the Fulton County commission.
"Our circumstances are dire," said Nichols' lead attorney, Henderson Hill. "It has crippled our ability to be ready for trial."
They referenced other high profile death penalty cases such as the Centennial Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph whom they stated had had more resources to get ready for trial. Rudolph's attorneys in Atlanta and in Birmingham, where Rudolph was accused of bombing an abortion clinic, had received more than $5.3 million to defend their death penalty client, who pleaded guilty before trial in exchange for a life sentence.
His defense attorneys feel that Nichols case is just as notorious and complex, and therefore more funds to defend him are justified.
Attorney Cindy Lang, with the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council, which pays for the defense of the poor as well as those facing the death penalty, pointed to a new law that limits state funds in capital cases to two attorneys and caps attorney fees at an amount set by the council, currently $95 an hour.
Hill, a renowned lawyer from Charlotte, told Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller that he and his colleague, Jacob Sussman, can't accept a reduction in their current fees, which Fuller had agreed to before they took the case in 2005. Hill is making $175 an hour, while Sussman's fees are set at $125. Nichols' third attorney, Robert McGlasson, previously volunteered a pay cut from $160 to $95. A fourth attorney, Penelope Marshall, has volunteered to work on the case for just a reimbursement of expenses.
State law allows counties to pay for a third attorney in capital cases, but doesn't compel them to. That's an expense that would have to be approved by the Fulton County Commission.
Nichols case involves a total of 11 crime scenes, 4 murdered, 2 hostage incidents in two counties, as well as several car jacking victims.
Prosecutors have lined up 400 people to testify against Nichols, and the defense have 100 to plead in his favor. The case has become even more complex, following a recent motion by the defense to use mental illness as an excuse for Nichols actions.
Current projections of cost fall somewhere around $4 million spent by state prosecutors, versus the $1.2 million the defense has put forth (all covered by taxpayers). With $100,000 in unpaid fees owed to mental health experts, as well as the North Carolina law firm defending Nichols claiming to have kicked in $32,000 in unbilled hours, defense is tapped out.
The judge is expected to rule on the case by the end of the week.
Excuse me, but this man is "stone cold guilty." What sense does it make to spend millions of dollars in taxpayers money defending him? All because the warm and fuzzy politically correct that are against the death penalty will be offended and outraged should the man be executed?
Maybe Court TV could kick in some defense funds. After all, with his trial scheduled to air live at the end of the month, I am sure that the advertisers that have all purchased air time for this event would be sadly disappointed if it didn't make it to court by the scheduled date.
The prosecutors in the case have apparently lost sight of reality........either that or they have a new Hummer on order, and need to make certain they've got the cost covered.
Talk about a blatant example of what is just so wrong with this country!
Give me a break..................
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