It took three and one-half years, but Brian Nichols, 36, finally is going on trial today in Atlanta on charges of killing a judge and three others. The trial is being held at Atlanta Municipal Court, a few blocks away from the principal crime scene, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A jury of six black women, two white women, two black men, one white man and one Asian man will hear the case. The presiding judge hopes for a verdict by Christmas.
Georgia taxpayers are paying to defend Nichols, to prosecute him, to protect him and to house him. Some estimates are that it will ultimately cost taxpayers at least $5 million to prosecute and defend Nichols. Controversies surrounding its expenses and delays may have been the death-knell of a state system that had just been created at the time of the crimes to eliminate the inequities of a hodge-podge of indigent defense systems. “This is a tragic case that comes along once every 50 years,”said veteran defense attorney Stephen Bright. “It’s too bad it couldn't be handled in a way that didn't result in consequences for the judiciary and the representation of poor people.”