Courthouse shooting trial moves forward in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) -- Security is tight both inside and outside the Atlanta Municipal Courthouse as opening statements get under way in the trial of a man accused of killing a judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy in a March 2005 shooting rampage.

The gunfire began at the Fulton County Courthouse, a few blocks from where the trial is taking place. Brian Nichols is also accused of killing a federal agent later that day in an Atlanta suburb.

Nichols' lawyers argue that he was insane at the time of the shootings. Prosecutors say Nichols' rampage was part of an escape attempt.

The case has been marred by numerous delays and troubles. A prosecutor filed a lawsuit against the first presiding judge, who has since stepped down.

The new judge says he will keep the trial on track. He's brushing off yet another attempt by Nichols' lawyers to the delay the trial again. The judge says "both sides are in good shape" and he feels "we've waited long enough" to start the trial.

If convicted, Nichols could get the death penalty.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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