ATLANTA – Brian Nichols (search) faced police at every turn Friday as he returned to the courthouse where he is accused of killing a judge and two other people last month.
Security was tight for Brian Nichols' first appearance at the Fulton County courthouse since the March 11 slayings. A sheriff's deputy was stationed in front of the courtroom and another deputy was in back. There also were other law enforcement officers, both in uniform and in street clothes, present in the courtroom. Nichols was shackled at the ankles.
His defense lawyers argued that they should be allowed to question potential grand jurors who will hear the case about their exposure to media coverage of the shootings and that testimony during the upcoming grand jury proceedings should be recorded.
Prosecutors objected to both requests, arguing that the grand jury proceedings are confidential.
Brian Nichols was polite and soft-spoken, answering routine questions from Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller (search) with "Yes, your honor" and "No, your honor." During the hearing, Nichols listened intently, at times leaning over to talk with his attorney.
Fuller took the motion under advisement. It was not clear when he would rule.
Nichols, 33, is accused of overpowering a deputy and stealing her gun, then killing Judge Rowland Barnes (search), who was presiding over Nichols' rape trial, and his court reporter. A sheriff's deputy was killed outside the courthouse, and a federal agent was killed elsewhere before Nichols was taken into custody the day after the rampage.
The sheriff's department, which has been criticized for its security measures at the courthouse, also on Friday released a section of its report on the attack that deals with the department's procedures for inmates.
Sections of the report that were released earlier this month say Nichols was able to enter the slain judge's chambers and hold the occupants hostage because the door was unlocked and a buzzer entry system was not activated.
Nichols' wrists and ankles were not shackled at the time of the attack. Sheriff's department policy requires inmates in custody to be secured at all times.
Nichols has not been charged with the shootings. Prosecutors are waiting for a new grand jury to be impaneled on May 3. The current grand jury was sworn in by the slain judge.
Friday's hearing took place in a first-floor courtroom of the Fulton County Courthouse complex in a tower connected to the building where the shooting occurred.
"We support him 100 percent," Gene Nichols, the defendant's father, said after the hearing in a brief interview with The Associated Press.
When asked what he would like to see come out of the case, he said, "I'd like to see less young men get caught up in the system," an apparent reference to his son. He did not elaborate.