Published March 15, 2005
ATLANTA – Courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols (search) is expected to make his first appearance before a judge on Tuesday, FOX News has learned.
The Fulton County District Attorney's Office told FOX News that, as authorities keep building their case, no new charges will be filed at the hearing at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Nichols will likely face multiple homicide charges in the deaths of a Superior Court judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a U.S. Immigration officer, as well as assault charges for beating another sheriff's deputy, who remains hospitalized.
Federal authorities Monday dismissed a firearms charge against Nichols so that Fulton County officials can decide how to proceed with the case.
The federal move also allows Fulton County (search) to take custody of the 33-year-old Nichols from the U.S. Marshals Service, which has held him since his capture Saturday, said David E. Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia.
"This office will continue to confer with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office to determine what federal and state charges should be brought against Nichols, and when such charges should be filed. The U.S. Attorney's Office remains committed to bringing Nichols to justice for the crimes he is alleged to have committed," Nahmias said in a statement.
Officials also declared a mistrial in Nichols's original rape case, as the judge in the case was murdered in Friday's incident.
Nichols was taken into custody after holding a woman hostage in Gwinnett County for seven hours, then freeing her. The woman, Ashley Smith (search), came forward Sunday to give an account of her ordeal, saying he let her go after they bonded while discussing God, family, pancakes and the massive manhunt going on outside her apartment. For more on Smith's story, click here.
Fulton County District Attorney's Office hopes to formally charge Nichols with the new crimes within 30 days, spokesman Erik Friedly said Sunday. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard still would like to resolve Nichols' interrupted rape retrial.
'He Always Had Good Manners'
Regina Dow, Nichols' aunt, told FOX News she was shocked about what happened.
"Brian is a good person. He will do anything for anybody. He's always had good manners," Dow said Monday.
Dow, who lives in Baltimore and is the sister of Nichol's mother, said her sister is upset because she has been in Africa and can't get home to be closer to her son.
"We know he did those crimes. We know he shot those people and our hearts out to their families," Dow said.
The aunt also had kind things to say about Smith and the way the woman helped calm Nichols down during her hostage ordeal.
"She came closer to seeing the real Brian than anyone because he is a very spiritual person ... I wish people could know the Brian that I know. Obviously, he snapped."
Barry Hazen was representing Nichols in his rape case and described his client as being "a very pleasant man to be with."
"He was very even-keeled, not too many emotional highs and lows ... He would always speak with you in the most polite terms," Hazen told FOX News on Monday, adding that his client was "very analytical" about his case.
Courthouse in Atlanta Reopens
At the courthouse, nervous workers and visitors lined up Monday as it reopened under heightened security in the wake of the slayings of a judge, deputy and court reporter three days earlier.
As the courthouse reopened at 8:30 a.m. EST — almost exactly 72 hours since the shootings — at least 80 people waited in line to get past a security checkpoint set up inside the building. The line snaked down a hallway near the entrance.
Michael Harris, 58, who was reporting to the courthouse for jury duty, said he felt safer knowing Nichols was behind bars.
"To me, it was one of those unusual things," said Harris. "At any time, terrible things can happen anywhere. You just have to put your faith in God and keep on going."
However, convicted felon Richard Jadwin, 20, who was there to check in with the sheriff's department, said he was felt uncomfortable being at the building.
"There's no guarantees in life. You can't know what a person's next move is going to be. I ain't even going to lie, I'm kind of nervous," said Jadwin, who wouldn't say what crime he was convicted of.
Crime scene tape and flowers greeted those who stepped off the elevators in front of the courtroom of Judge Rowland Barnes, which is where Barnes and his court reporter, Julie Brandau, were killed. Both Barnes and Bardau had been working Nichols' trial, which had started Tuesday. Sheriff's Sgt. Hoyt Teasley was killed outside the courthouse, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent David Wilhelm was killed later.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that a courthouse surveillance camera recorded Nichols' initial surprise attack on Deputy Cynthia Hall but that no one in the control center noticed the assault.
"It's not just horrible, it was preventable," Senior Superior Court Judge Philip Etheridge told the newspaper.
A video camera that is supposed to be monitored by two guards in a command post shows Nichols lunging at Hall and knocking her backward, according to a law enforcement official who saw the tape.
Etheridge said Hall, a petite 51-year-old, should not have been alone with Nichols, a former college linebacker who had been found with two sharpened door hinges in his socks earlier in the week.
Hall remained in critical condition Sunday, Grady Memorial Hospital officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.