A newspaper employee testified today that a gun-wielding Brian Nichols carjacked her minutes after the deadly courthouse rampage.

Almeta Kilgo made the statements during a hearing in which defense lawyers for Nichols were trying to block her testimony and that of 16 other witnesses. She says she is sure that Nichols was the one who stole her car at gunpoint on March eleventh, 2005, in a parking garage less than a mile from the Fulton County Courthouse.

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Defense lawyers have alleged that Kilgo's identification and that of the other witnesses they are trying to block were influenced by improper police tactics. They want Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller to suppress the identifications and to prevent the witnesses from testifying at Nichols' murder trial, which is scheduled to begin January eleventh.

Nichols was being retried on rape charges when prosecutors say he stole a deputy's handgun at the courthouse after the deputy removed his handcuffs to allow him to change out of his jail clothes and prepare for court.

Authorities say Nichols fatally shot the judge presiding over his rape trial, a court reporter chronicling the proceeding and a sheriff's deputy who chased him outside the courthouse. He's also accused of committing several carjackings while on the run and killing a federal agent he encountered at a home north of downtown. He surrendered the next day after allegedly taking a woman hostage in an Atlanta suburb.

Nichols has pleaded not guilty. If he is convicted, prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.