Brian Nichols was saved from a death sentence in the Atlanta courthouse shooting case by three jurors who were determined that he instead spend his life in prison, no matter how many people he killed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard suggested that the possibility of a death penalty was doomed – even before jury selection – by the three holdouts. He said two jurors wold him that “some people showed up for jury duty with their minds already made up and never entered into a meaningful discussion of a death sentence. That means we didn't get a fair trial.”
Howard will urge Georgia lawmakers to amend the law – that now requires a unanimous decision – to allow a 10-juror majority approve a death penalty. “We're not asking for favors – we are just asking for a level playing field,” Howard said. “People who will not deliberate should not be permitted to continue to serve on juries.” He said the holdouts were evidently not truthful when questioned by lawyers about whether they could impose the death penalty before they were chosen for the jury. Inside the jury room the three holdouts reportedly told the other nine jurors that they would not impose death for any killings. The jury – six black women, two white women, two black men, one white man, and one Asian man – began hearing the case Sept. 22 and convicted Nichols on Nov. 7 after 12 hours of deliberation. The trial then entered a four-week penalty phase.