Humanities › Issues Brian Nichols: Atlanta Courthouse Killer Background and Case Developments Share Flipboard Email Print FBI agents escort murder suspect Brian Nichols from an FBI holding facility in 2005. Davis Turner/Getty Images Issues Crime & Punishment Criminals & Crimes Basics Prevention & Safety Investigations & Trials Serial Killers The U. S. Government U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. Liberal Politics U.S. Conservative Politics Women's Issues Civil Liberties The Middle East Terrorism Race Relations Immigration Animal Rights Canadian Government View More By Charles Montaldo Private Investigator Charles Montaldo is a writer and former licensed private detective who worked with law enforcement and insurance firms investigating crime and fraud. our editorial process Charles Montaldo Updated December 13, 2017 On March 11, 2005, Nichols was on trial for rape at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta when he overpowered a female deputy, took her gun, and went into the courtroom where he trial was being held and shot the judge and a court reporter. Nichols is also charged with killing a sheriff's deputy who tried to stop his escape from the courthouse and shooting a federal agent at his home a few miles from the courthouse.Nichols' escape set off one of the largest manhunts in Georgia history, which ended after he took Ashley Smith hostage in her apartment and she convinced him to let her leave and then called 9-1-1. Case Developments Brian Nichols Avoids Death Penalty Dec. 12, 2008 Brian Nichols, the convicted Atlanta Courthouse killer, avoided the death penalty when a jury deciding his fate deadlocked after four days of deliberation. The jury was split 9-3 in favor of giving Nichols the death penalty rather than life in prison. Atlanta Courthouse Killer Found GuiltyNov. 7, 2008After deliberating for 12 hours, a jury found the Atlanta Courthouse killer guilty of murder and dozens of other charges in connection with his deadly escape from the Fulton County Courthouse on March 11, 2005. Brian Nichols was found guilty of all 54 charges after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Previous Developments Ashley Smith Testifies Against Brian NicholsOct. 6, 2008 The woman who talked accused Atlanta Courthouse killer Brian Nichols into surrendering to police testified at his trial that she appealed to his religious beliefs while she was held captive by him in her apartment. Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Trial UnderwaySept. 22, 2008After years of delays and nine weeks to select a jury of eight women and four men, the trial of accused Atlanta Courthouse shooter Brian Nichols got underway under high security Monday. Nichols has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity for killing a judge, court reporter and sheriff's deputy at the Fulton County Courthouse and a federal agent later that day. Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Trial Finally BeginsJuly 10, 2008Jury selection has finally begun in the Atlanta Courthouse Shooting a day after Brian Nichols pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 54 counts, including the murders of four people. More than 600 witnesses are scheduled to testify in the high-profile trial which could last for months. Mental Exam Ordered for Brian NicholsJune 12, 2008A judge has ruled that prosecutors can have their own psychological expert examine Brian Nichols, who plans to claim he was insane when he shot his way out of an Atlanta courthouse in 2005. Nichols Wants New Judge RemovedApril 23, 2008Brian Nichols' defense team claims the judge should recuse himself because he was a friend of one of the victims. Judge Keeps Jury Pool in Brian Nichols CaseApril 11, 2008The new judge in the Atlanta Courthouse Shooting case has ruled that the jury selection process will begin again in July where it left off before being interrupted by the controversy over the funding for the defense. Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford issued a ruling that jury selection would continue July 10 from the original jury pool of 3,500. Courthouse Shooting Judge Steps DownJan. 30, 2008The controversial judge in the Atlanta Courthouse shooting trial of Brian Nichols has stepped down after a magazine article quoted him saying, "everyone in the world knows he did it." County to Help Fund Brian Nichols' DefenseJan. 15, 2008The death penalty trial of accused Atlanta Courthouse killer Brian Nichols could begin again as early as mid-March after the Fulton County Commission voted to spend $125,000 to help in his defense by paying for a psychiatric evaluation. Brian Nichols Murder Trial Delayed AgainNov. 16, 2007For the fifth time, the murder trial of accused Atlanta Courthouse Killer Brian Nichols has been delayed due to a lack of funds for his defense. Sticking to his guns despite growing criticism, Judge Hilton Fuller ruled that he will not start the trial until there is more money provided to Nichols' defense team. DA Tries to Force Start of Nichols TrialNov. 2, 2007The Fulton County district attorney has filed a complaint with the Georgia Supreme Court in an effort to force the judge in the Atlanta Courthouse Shootings case to resume jury selection. Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Trial to BeginOct. 15, 2007Security will be tight at the Fulton County courthouse this week as the trial of Brian Nichols begins in the same building he is accused of shooting his way out of almost three years ago. Lack of Money May Delay Brian Nichols' TrialFeb. 12, 2007The trial of Brian Nichols in the Atlanta courthouse shooting case may be delayed because the agency in charge of paying his court-appointed attorneys is out of money. Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Trial BeginsJan. 11, 2007Although there is absolutely no doubt about the guilt of the defendant, a long, drawn out and expensive trial is scheduled to begin in the same courthouse that also happens to be the scene of the crime. Brian Nichols Trial Delay RejectedDec. 22, 2006Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller has rejected another defense motion that would have delayed the start of the trial of Brian Nichols. Atlanta Courthouse Shooting Trial to Be Moved?Jan 30, 2006Attorneys for Brian Nichols have asked that his trial be moved to another courthouse, because the current one is the crime scene. Hostage Ashley Smith Gave Nichols MethSept. 28, 2005Ashley Smith, the woman who helped authorities capture Atlanta Courthouse killer Brian Nichols, says in her new book "Unlikely Angel" that she talked with him about her faith and gave him methamphetamine during her seven-hour hostage ordeal. Previous developments in the Atlanta Courthouse Shooting case: Two Arrested for Murder of Ashley Smith's HusbandJune 23, 2005Four years after Daniel (Mack) Smith was stabbed to death at an August, Georgia apartment complex, two men have been indicted and arrested for the stabbing death of the husband of Ashley Smith, the woman who convinced the Atlanta courthouse killer to turn himself into police. Death Penalty Sought for NicholsMay 5, 2005The Fulton County district attorney will seek the death penalty for the man accused of shooting his way out of an Atlanta courthouse, leaving four people dead and setting off the largest manhunt in Georgia history. Ashley Smith Collects $70,000 RewardMarch 24, 2005Ashley Smith was given $70,000 in reward money for helping authorities capture courthouse shooter Brian Nichols. Hostage: 'God Brought Him to My Door'March 14, 2005Ashley Smith, the 26-year-old hostage who notified police that the Atlanta Courthouse Killer wanted to turned himself in, read to Brian Nichols from "The Purpose Driven Life," shared her personal faith, and prayed with him for more than seven hours in her Duluth, Georgia apartment. Courthouse Killer Waves 'White Flag' to SurrenderMarch 12, 2005Brian Nichols, the man who killed three people in a Fulton County Courtroom Friday, waved a white flag to surrender to authorities after they surrounded a Metro Atlanta Area apartment that belonged to a woman who managed to call 911. Courthouse Killer Gives Cops the SlipMarch 11, 2005The manhunt for an Atlanta man who killed three people at the Fulton County Courthouse Friday morning became a lot more complicated when the vehicle the suspect was thought to be driving was found 14 hours later on a lower deck of the same parking from which it was supposedly stolen.