Jury selection in the much-delayed trial of accused Atlanta courthouse killer Brian Nichols is scheduled to start today, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nichols’ attorneys made it official that they will use an insanity defense. Superior Court Judge James Bodiford, the second judge to preside over the case, believes a jury will be chosen much more quickly than the two or three months predicted by prosecutors and defense lawyers.
Nichols’ lawyers contended yesterday that their client couldn’t control his actions on March 11, 2005, when he is accused of fatally shooting a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy, and a federal officer. He supposedly suffered from a delusional compulsion that “overmastered his will.” If Nichols is found insane at the time of the killings, he would be sent to a secure mental hospital to be evaluated and kept there until he was determined not to be threat to himself or others, said Thomas West, a lawyer and expert in capital-murder defense who is not involved in this case. If found guilty of murder, Nichols could face the death penalty. Jury selection for Nichols has been delayed, started, and then delayed again because of legal issues, most notably funding problems for Nichols’ defense team.