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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Murder of Judge in Atlanta Courtroom
Aired March 11, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TED ROWLANDS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, murder in an Atlanta courthouse, with the suspect still on the loose. A rape defendant allegedly grabs a deputy's gun, kills a judge, a court reporter and a deputy sheriff. He then pistol-whips a newspaper reporter and escapes in his car.
We've got the latest on this shocking story with Nancy Grace of Court TV and Headline News. The former Atlanta prosecutor worked in that very courthouse for 10 years where the violence took place today, and she was good friends with not only the judge but the court reporter that were murdered today. Also with us, Judge Craig Schwall, who worked with 10 years with murdered judge Rowland W. Barnes; Fulton County court administrator Judy Cramer, another friend and colleague of Judge Barnes and of murdered court reporter Julie Brandau; CNN's Gary Tuchman at the courthouse where it all happened; Chris Pixley, the Atlanta-based defense attorney works out of that courthouse, as well, every week. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Hello, everybody. I'm Ted Rowlands, filling in for Larry King tonight. Before we get to the horrible events in Atlanta, a quick programming note. Larry's interview with evangelical Joyce Meyer that was originally planned for tonight will be scheduled for a later date.
Now on to what happened today in Atlanta. Before we get the very latest from Gary Tuchman, who is outside the courtroom, we want to go first to Nancy Grace, who not only knew the judge killed that was in this case, but also the court reporter, and who worked for 10 years in that very courthouse where all of this violence took place.
Nancy, your thoughts tonight, as I'm sure this is starting to set in.
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV, HEADLINE NEWS: You know, Ted, I was on a plane, actually, at one airport in New York, headed to California for a victims' rights vigil with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Carrington Foundation when I heard that the judge that had been downed in the courtroom was Judge Barnes. And it was my friend, Julie Brandau, as well as Deputy Sheriff Teasley.
And I was stunned, just -- I could hardly take it in, Ted. I got up off the plane, went out, tried to find people on the phone, tried to find out what happened, and hopped a plane home to Atlanta. And you know, when I think of Rowland Barnes, Ted, I think of him taking a big swing with a metal softball bat. We played softball with each other and against each other, the public defenders versus the district attorneys, versus the court administrator. And he was one of those people, Ted -- you know what I think about a lot of judges -- that we all said, thank God Barnes has made it to the superior court bench.
ROWLANDS: You worked in that actual courtroom...
GRACE: Oh, yes.
ROWLANDS: ... for upwards of 10 years.
GRACE: Oh, yes. I've tried many a case in that courtroom. That courtroom is on the eighth floor, which is the top of the old courthouse. It is a very enviable court because it's huge. All the judges love the courtroom. And what Barnes liked about it is every Thanksgiving, Ted, he would throw a big Thanksgiving meal. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there would be a couple hundred people. His courtroom had a kitchen. And Julie Brandau, who was just visiting me in New York recently -- she saw the Empire State Building, she saw Ground Zero, she saw the Rockefeller Center. Her daughter is in college. She's a single mom.
ROWLANDS: Julie Brandau is the court reporter killed, as well, today. And obviously, you kept in contact with her after you left your position as a prosecutor.
GRACE: Yes. But that courtroom, in the old courthouse -- let me explain. There are two tall structures. The old courthouse, where I practiced, and the new courthouse, they are connected by a bridge, several bridges up the floors, including one on the eighth floor.
And what's so stunning to me, Ted, is this guy, who had just gotten a mistrial on rape and aggravated sodomy and possession of a machine-gun-like weapon -- got a mistrial last week, back on trial -- he knew he was going down. Ted, he risked his own escape to go back over to the old courthouse to shoot Barnes on the bench. Under his robe, he had on his jeans and his cowboy boots. Julie, the court reporter, was shot right there in front of the bench, prepared to take down the trial.
ROWLANDS: And to go back and do that, to risk his own escape -- was Judge Barnes -- it seems like this is a guy that people respected, people had liked on both sides. What would compel someone to do that? And are you surprised that this guy went out of his way to kill, I guess, Rowland Barnes?
GRACE: I really am. I really am because, you know, I've sat in that courtroom many a time, sitting up in the jury box, sitting at the prosecutor table, going up behind the bench, trying to get documents or the law books that the judge keeps behind him on the bench. We never -- you would think a defendant would try to flee and avoid arrest. Instead, this guy made it his business -- and he had just been found with two shanks, which are homemade knives from the jail, a couple of days before. And I'm just stunned that he would risk his own escape to go back and seek vengeance on this judge.
ROWLANDS: The family that is formed in a courthouse -- defense attorneys and prosecutors go at it on a daily basis, but working together, it is a real family, is it not? And how is this family doing tonight, in your estimation? Because you're part of that family, are you not, being away from it a while, but still, 10 years invested?
GRACE: Yes, you know, Ted, being a victims' rights advocate and putting bad guys behind bars is what I'm the single most proud of in my life. And when you're under that intense combat situation with defense attorneys, with judges, with the court reporters, you bond. You bond because you see the worst life has to offer and the best life has to offer in your victims, in your defendants, in your witnesses.
So yes, today, Ted, people were on the sidewalk crying, lined up on the sidewalk, just crying outside the courthouse.
ROWLANDS: Rowland Barnes -- do you think because this defendant had two shanks with him, was caught with two shanks -- do you think that Judge Barnes maybe thought something was coming here, or what do you think went through his mind when he saw this defendant walk into his courtroom?
GRACE: Well, he was caught with the shanks a couple of days before. They had a security meeting in the judge's chambers about what to do about this guy. The reason he was unshackled, Ted, is -- of course, in my opinion violent felons, perpetrators, need to be shackled at all times. But when they're in a jury trial, it is unconstitutional for a jury to see them in shackles. It has very bad connotation.
In fact, that was the young lady you were showing that visited New York with Julie. That was another court reporter. You could see her little face just red and raw from crying.
But I'm stunned. I know it seems crazy when you work with violent felons all the time, but I'm stunned that someone would go back to the courtroom. And Ted, this guy went back through the judge's chambers, where his secretary and receptionist and all were, apparently handcuffed them, while the judge was on the bench having a civil hearing before his criminal case at 9:00 o'clock, came out through the chamber door, not through the public entrance, came into the courtroom. He got all the way up to the judge on the bench. And of course, Julie was sitting down, totally unprotected below him as the court reporter.
And I tell you something else. The district attorney would have been there in about 15 minutes to restart the jury trial. It's only, you know, a miracle that Gail (ph) was not there, as well.
ROWLANDS: All right. Rowland Barnes, superior court judge, Julie Brandau, the court reporter, and Sergeant Hoyt Teasley, all gunned down in an Atlanta courtroom today. We'll have the latest on the search for Brian Nichols. It is a manhunt that has taken out the entire southeast of this country. We'll have the very latest when LARRY KING LIVE continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL HOWARD, ATLANTA FULTON CO. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Judge Barnes did nothing, in our estimation, to insult this man. The court reporter did nothing. This deputy, who was shot at the end, was just somebody he shot while he was leaving. So it's all right to say, and that's why I ask the public to really be careful with this guy because he doesn't seem to have some rationale to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they were going, Get out of the way! Get down! get in the courtroom! And I hit the door to go into the courtroom and it was locked, and they grabbed me and they put me in an elevator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: The search continues for Brian Nichols, the suspect who is accused of gunning down a judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy this morning in Atlanta.
CNN's Gary Tuchman is outside the courthouse where this took place has the very latest on not only the manhunt but what happened inside that courtroom -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Ted. Twelve hours after this tragedy occurred here in this courthouse behind me, we still see the police helicopters hovering above us, and they still have not captured their man. This man could be 700, 800, 900 miles away right now. But it is believed by many authorities that Brian Nichols, 33 years old, may still be in the area, may being protected by a family member or a friend. All those locations around the Atlanta area are being looked at.
What we know is this. Brian Nichols was in side this part of the courthouse. There's a new part of the courthouse and an old part of the courthouse. He was in the new part of the courthouse, being transported through the building, when he overpowered a sheriff's deputy and took her gun. That woman is in critical condition right now, but it's not clear if she was shot. We were just talking to the doctor who treated her. She does have a wound on her head, but it may have been from a punch, it may have been from an elbow. They're not exactly sure.
He then -- Nichols -- could have escaped, but he made the decision not to escape, instead to walk across the pedestrian bridge to the old part of the courthouse, where the courtroom was that was taking -- where his rape trial was taking place. He obviously, it appears, was intending on revenge. He went inside there, shot the judge, shot the court reporter, and then he went to escape, coming down the stairs, coming into the street, encountering another sheriff's deputy, who he did shoot and he did kill -- three people dead. He then hijacked a car and took off.
At this point, authorities say they have not been able to capture him, but are confident they will. We can tell you -- Nancy was touching on this before -- the senior assistant district attorney trying this case, Gail Abramson -- she was talking to us earlier, and we asked her -- very gingerly, but we asked her, Do you think that he was intent on finding you there and shooting you? And she said, I don't know, but I was only a couple of minutes away from entering the court when this happened -- Ted.
ROWLANDS: How much of a detour did this guy have to take to go and kill these folks in the courtroom, specifically, the judge?
TUCHMAN: It was a several-minute detour, and that's what's so chilling. I mean, if this man just wanted to escape, what he would have done is taken that gun and start making his way right down this glass stairway right here. But instead, he spent several minutes walking through a public corridor, walking across a pedestrian bridge, going into the courtroom. And what's even more troubling is it appears that nobody else in the courthouse knew what was taking place in this courtroom. He was in there for several minutes, by the accounts we have heard, waiting around before he shot these two people, and no one rushed into the courtroom to shoot him before he did this.
ROWLANDS: Nancy Grace, Julie Brandau, the a court reporter, you talked briefly about her and her position in that courtroom. You said she would have been below the judge, working away. Why did you keep in contact with her? Tell us a bit about her and your friendship.
GRACE: Well, Ted, there's a shot of Julie right there. Julie, when I first became a prosecutor in '87, was a floater. She would go from one court to the next. She wasn't assigned to a particular judge. At that time, Barnes was still on state court. He was a magistrate, actually. And we all came up through the ranks together.
And Julie and I would stay many a night, late, sitting in the courtroom at the end of the day, jury gone home, trying to get, you know, 50, 60 exhibits straight, make sure that they were all accounted for. She wouldn't go home until she had everything arranged for the next day.
And let me tell you something about Julie. She's a single mom, daughter in college, out of state. And she would make peach bread or oatmeal cookies, just anything from scratch to bring into the jurors that were on trial. And I was speaking to my colleague from the DA's office earlier, who processed the crime scene with the bodies still in the courtroom. And he said, when you came through the judge's chambers, Ted, that they -- he saw where all the cookies and bread she had made for this criminal jury were sitting out.
And the judge is at least elevated up on a bench. That didn't help him today because the perp came in from his chambers. But the court reporter is sitting out below the judge, in front of the judge. There you can see, that's where the clerks and court reporters sit, totally unprotected, as are the lawyers.
So when Judge Barnes was found today, he had on his jeans and his cowboy boots. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't have on his red flannel jacket. And Julie had brought in all of her treats for the jury. ROWLANDS: Judge Craig Schwall, you worked with Judge Rowland Barnes. You came onto the bench about the same time. What can you tell us about him? And what are your thoughts tonight in the wake of this tragedy?
JUDGE CRAIG SCHWALL, WORKED WITH MURDERED JUDGE FOR 10 YEARS: It was my privilege to work with Judge Rowland Barnes when he was magistrate judge and I was a magistrate judge. I was appointed magistrate judge in 1996, and he was a magistrate judge at that time. And then both of us made short lists, myself for the state court and Judge Barnes for the superior court, under Senator Miller -- I mean, Governor Miller, at the time, in 1998. And I talked to Governor Miller's former chief legal counsel, Mark Cohen (ph), today, and he laughed about how when you get rejected for a judgeship, the staff attorney calls you, and when you get appointed, the governor calls you.
SCHWALL: So Rowland would tell him, OK, well, here's my beach house phone number where I'm going to be, Mark, so you can call me, because I guess the governor won't be calling. But of course, the governor did call him in 1998 and appointed him. And everybody was so pleased with that appointment because they felt like that he had earned it, he deserved it, he worked hard. He wanted to be a judge. And his demeanor, his temperament and the way he treated everyone, with so much respect and dignity, was something that, as a judge of the state court, that I would like to emulate.
I never heard anybody speak ill of Rowland Barnes. He was one of the kindest, nicest gentlest guys. And I was talking to Judy Cramer, who's on the program tonight, who's the superior court administrator. The court system down there, whether it's the sheriff's department or the marshal's department or the superior court, state court or magistrate court, is one big family, one true family, and prosecutor's offices. And people don't quit their jobs down there, they retire from their jobs.
And this is an unthinkable, unspeakable tragedy that, in my opinion, came out of left field. And I'm sure there'll be a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking, but it's just a tragedy that -- like 9/11, that you could never, ever imagine. And clearly, this suspect had evil premeditations because, clearly, he could have escaped and he wanted to go kill the judge. And it's just been an awful, awful day in our courthouse.
ROWLANDS: An awful day, indeed. Nancy Grace has to leave us tonight. Nancy, thank you for joining us tonight. I know that you're in a lot of pain tonight, one of those family members that the judge just talked about.
We'll get more on the search for Brian Nichols when LARRY KING LIVE continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SONNY PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: It's a sad day when the very foundation of our country, the civil justice system, is threatened by someone creating such a heinous act in the courtroom. All of our state assets are available to Fulton County. They're the lead agency in this investigation and pursuit of this individual, but our Georgia state patrol, our Georgia Bureau of Investigation, our aviation assets are all at their disposal in the apprehension of this individual. I hope we find him fast. And we are looking, as we speak, and hopefully, this can be brought to a conclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: We are expecting a news conference within the half hour in Atlanta. The city of Atlanta police chief, Richard Pennington, is expected to brief the media on the latest on the manhunt for Brian Nichols, who has been at large since killing three people in an Atlanta courthouse this morning at 9:00 o'clock Eastern time. He went in, killed a judge, Judge Rowland Barnes, a court reporter, Julie Brandau, and a sheriff's deputy outside, while he was trying to flee the building.
One of the people that knew Julie Brandau quite well was Judy Cramer. She's with us tonight, the court administrator in Fulton County. Tell us about your friend that you have lost here, Judy.
JUDY CRAMER, FULTON COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATOR: Well, Julie Brandau was a person that I think we would all vote was the angel of the courthouse. She was a best friend of mine in terms of staff there and colleagues. She was the person who, when I was sick last year with ovarian cancer and I ran out of sick leave, she gave me her vacation time.
ROWLANDS: I understand, too, there's a special necklace. Are you wearing it tonight?
CRAMER: Yes, I have it on right now. She came by last week and gave this to me. She was the kind of person that would remember you -- every small little detail that you would do for her, in the next day or two, you would get a package with a note. And I had been working with her, and she was one of the lead court reporters who needed to get some checks in on time, and we had been working with finance to do that. She was so grateful, she just dropped by with a note and a necklace. And that was the kind of person it was -- she was to work with.
ROWLANDS: In San Francisco, Candice DeLong, a retired FBI profiler, is with us, the author of the book "Special Agent." Candice, is this guy, in your estimation, going to go out firing, take more people, or is his No. 1 concern just to save himself and lay low and escape here?
CANDICE DELONG, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: Well, oftentimes, these kinds of things end in a blaze of glory. There's not a whole lot of places this man can go. I can't see this thing going on for days and days and days. He's already, I think, proven by his act of killing the judge -- he could have escaped, but that wasn't his intent. His intent was to kill the judge, clearly. He's already shown by that act that he is, in my opinion, prepared to die. And I can't imagine him withholding back from killing anyone that gets in his way. He might be inviting suicide by cop.
ROWLANDS: Would he go to a friend's house, or family members, bring them into it? Or what he has done, is that hitting him, and would he know to keep them out? Obviously, they're looking at this.
DELONG: Yes. I don't think this guy cares about who he gets in trouble or anything like that. It certainly would not be unusual for a fugitive from justice to go to the places where he feels safe or where can get assistance. Of course, his intellect should tell him that's not a good idea, for obvious reasons. But I mean, how far he go? He needs -- when you're on the run, you need money. This is just...
ROWLANDS: You have to keep moving, right.
DELONG: ... not going to go on for a long, long time.
ROWLANDS: Gary Tuchman, he carjacked a number of people to get out of the immediate area, including a reporter who was showing up for work and a tow truck driver. Is the speculation that he has now carjacked multiple people and you just haven't -- no one -- they haven't been able to find the Honda, or I guess they're keeping it wide open?
TUCHMAN: Well, authorities aren't exactly sure, Ted. I mean, one of the things you saw in the metropolitan Atlanta area today when driving down the interstate highways was the electronic signs that said, Look out for a green Honda, and had a license plate. But police also told us they're not sure if he's still in the green Honda.
And that's an incredible story about one of the carjackings. He went into this parking garage. It happens to be right next to me over here. We'll give you a look at it. This is the Underground parking garage, and it's in an area in Atlanta where lots of tourists come to go to the Underground shopping center, go to the World of Coke, which is a museum, to go to the state capitol building here. A guy was getting out of his car. The gunman came out and said, Give me your car and hop in the trunk. This person who owned the car happens to be a reporter with the newspaper here, "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution," and he said, I'm not going in the trunk. Take the car. Good decision, wise decision, brave decision on his part. That was the green Honda that was taken, but it's not clear that this 33-year- old man is still in it.
ROWLANDS: He obviously wanted him in the trunk so that he wouldn't report the car stolen, therefore giving him an opportunity to flee the area. Candice DeLong, do you think that he has done that again and there may be somebody, possibly in the trunk of the car, with this guy making his way out of the area?
DELONG: Well, possibly. I don't know how smart this guy is or not, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me to find out that there has been another carjacking or there will be in the future, or perhaps he'll get lucky and come upon a car that has the keys on it but no person in it.
ROWLANDS: Chris Pixley works at the courthouse, will be there Monday, a defense attorney in the Atlanta area. I don't know your relationship with Judge Rowland Barnes or with Julie Brandau, but obviously, you have a close relationship with the people in that courthouse and are feeling their pain here tonight. Is there a sense, working at a courtroom, which is inherently dangerous anyway that you are always looking over your shoulder, or especially looking at these defendants? Or do you, after time, get complacent?
CHRIS PIXLEY, ATLANTA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, we were talking about that here tonight. I think -- I don't want to say that you get complacent, Ted, but you know, you've been in so many courtrooms over the years. As you mentioned, I'm going to be in Fulton County courthouse, in the superior court, on the eighth floor, the same floor, on Monday morning. And I don't know what, if anything, will be done differently.
It reminds me of a trial that we had, that I and some of my partners had several years ago in Oklahoma City shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing. There was a heightened sense of alert and security there, but when you asked the federal marshals, really, What are you going to do to change things, to upgrade security, they didn't really know what they were going to do. And I think that that's the problem here in the Fulton County courthouse.
We have good security. I've never felt unsafe there. I know that it's been said today that security could be better. Security can always be better. But this is really the only event that I know of in the past 10, 20 years where there's been a murder in the courtroom, on the bench. And that's what's so unusual about it. And I don't know what more can be done, Ted.
GRACE: I do.
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols still on the loose after shooting a judge, a court clerk and a sheriff's deputy. We are expecting a news conference from the Atlanta police chief in the next few moments. We'll take a break and be back with more on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON O'BRIANT, CARJACKING VICTIM: An SUV pulled in right beside me, and a tall black guy gets out with no shirt on, asks for directions to Lennox Scare. I think he is an town for the basketball tournament, so I start giving him directions. All of a sudden he pulls the gun and says, give me the keys. I don't give them to him. And he says, give me your keys or I will kill you. I give him the keys, he opens the trunk and say get in the trunk...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: And that press conference is starting right now in the city of Atlanta. This is Chief Richard Pennington.
RICHARD PENNINGTON, ATLANTA POLICE CHIEF: Today, the suspect, Brian Nichols is still out and wanted. And we wanted to give his description again. He's black male, 6'1, 200 pounds, medium complexion. And last seen driving a green Honda Georgia tag 6584 Y9 at Marietta and Centennial Olympic Park.
We want to let you know we have several organizations working on this case. And I want to name them. The Atlanta Homicide Unit and our fugitive units are working on 12 hour shifts in coordination with the FBI, GBI, United States Marshall Service, AFT, Fulton County Sheriff, Fulton County Police and Fulton County District Attorney's Office.
The tip line. And we want to make sure that we put that out there, because as you know, the reward money has gone up to $60,000. We received a donation earlier this evening from Bishop Eddie Long of $5,000, which now, I think the total is up to $60,000. But the tip line that we want people to call in is area code 404 730-7983, or 404- 730-7984. We will have someone there answering the phones around the clock.
We don't have a lot to add to this, but we wanted to keep this fresh in the minds of the public, because we have not located that green Honda. And we know that that individual probably still is in that green Honda or either he has changed the tags on that green Honda. And so it's important for us to find that individual. This manhunt will continue until he's apprehended. He's a very dangerous person in our community. And we want the public to know that.
If anyone has any information about this individual, please call us. Because we're not going to stop looking until we apprehend this person.
And so I'll hope it up for questions. I have Chief Dreher here with me. He gave a press conference earlier today when I was out of town. Yes.
QUESTION: ...still in the metro area. Have you got any bona fide leads that...
PENNINGTON: Well, we're getting lots of calls but right now, we haven't had anything concrete. We've had people call us and say they observed a green Honda, but didn't know the tag number. Or they thought they saw a tag number in their area. So right now, we're writing down all the information and compiling it so we can put it together so our task force can work on it.
QUESTION: Did you have any stronger reason to believe now that he's left the state?
PENNINGTON: No, we don't know that. No, we really don't know that.
QUESTION: Have you gotten sightings in other states?
PENNINGTON: No, we haven't.
QUESTION: Can you talk about specifically about what you're doing right now? Are your patrol officers out patrolling the streets?
PENNINGTON: Yes. Absolutely. Yes, let me tell you that.
Actually, Our officers are out patrolling every square mile of the city of Atlanta, and also Fulton County. We have notified the surrounding jurisdictions, and they're doing the same thing.
When a police officer is killed, and in this case, a judge, we're going to do everything we can -- of course that court reporter, too, we're going to do everything we can to locate and apprehend that person. So it's important to first find the car.
And so we're doing -- I mean our officers are out working very diligently to locate that automobile.
And so we're not going to stop. We have a task force that's working 12-hour shifts. We have a command center set up. And we're going to stay in that command center until we apprehend this individual.
He's very dangerous. He's still armed. And until we get him off the street, we will not rest.
QUESTION: Sir, are you surprised you haven't found that green Honda given the massive manhunt under way now?
PENNINGTON: Yes, we are surprised. Because normally in a situation when you put out a lookout information about a vehicle like that, Honda, green Honda, you would think by now someone would have called. We have received some calls, but it didn't match the tag. And so we're hoping that even tonight or tomorrow morning, someone will call us and give us information about this individual, or vehicle.
QUESTION: We know the first time, when he was arrested, that his friend turned him in, I think it was twice that we heard earlier this afternoon. Have you been in touch with family members and friends?
PENNINGTON: Yes. Actually, we've been in contact with his associates. We've been in contact with some of his friends, neighbors. We're combing the areas where he's lived and where some of his associates have lived. And so..
Well, I don't want to get into specifics about who we've talked to. But I'm just telling you we're contacting everyone that might have some information. And I think because of this reward now, I think individuals will start to call.
ROWLANDS: Chief Richard Pennington of the Atlanta Police Department detailing the latest in this. And there's not much to report.
On the loose at this hour, Brian Nichols. He's been on the loose since just after 9:00 Eastern time. There's a $60,000 reward out for any information leading to his arrest. He's in a green Honda, license plate 6584 Y9.
Gary Tuchman, give us an indication of how wide this search is at this hour. Obviously, it's not just the city of Atlanta.
TUCHMAN: Well, Ted, I think it's very notable how discouraged the police chief sounded like -- excuse me, sir. There's somebody about to walk into our shot right here. Excuse me, sir.
We did want to tell you what's happening, yes, they're intensely searching the city of Atlanta and the entire county of Fulton County. This is the county seat of Fulton County, this is the center. It's about a 35 mile long county from north to south. So, there's lots of searching. However, there are many other counties nearby...
ROWLANDS: Gary, he committed this at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time. Isn't it conceivable he could be almost to Chicago by now, or at least well out of this area?
TUCHMAN: Well, that's right. He's been gone 12 hours. If he's averaging 70 miles an hour, you're talking about. He could be 900 miles away.
However, it's very important to find out that everyone we talked to today still is betting this man is being protected by somebody he knows. And that's why you saw the police chief who sounded rather pessimistic, but nevertheless, that we are searching every scrap of the city of Atlanta and this county because there are certain places where they are camping out and waiting. If he's not being protecting, maybe he will go back to those places. And that's why they're watching those places very carefully.
TUCHMAN: Judge Craig Schwall, we have heard reports that Judge Rowland Barnes had asked for extra security when handling this suspect because of the shanks that were found on his person. Is that common? How common is it for A, someone to be caught with a potential weapon, and B, for the judge to make an actual declaration, let's bump up security here because I'm worried about this guy.
SCHWALL: I'm not familiar with any request the judge may have made. But I am familiar from serving as magistrate judge when they would do sweeps of the Fulton County Jail that inmates would make shanks or knives out of everything from parts of broom sticks to toothbrushes to combs, to anything there is.
And I had a case one time where an inmate slipped out of his handcuffs and was -- he had a sharing in the waistband of his pants as he was coming into my courtroom. I had a situation where an inmate tried to grab a deputy marshall's judge.
I don't believe that it's common for a judge to ask for protection. And if the judge did ask for protection in this case, he must have voiced some concerns that he thought were appropriate and valid. ROWLANDS: I don't know that it was actual protection for him or more of a warning of -- to bump up security in general for this defendant. Do you carry with you fear on a daily basis, or do you get comfortable?
SCHWALL: You have to understand, I'm state court judge where we do big civil trials, medical malpractice trials, personal injury trials. And our criminal cases are misdemeanors punishable by less than a year in jail, like DUI's and domestic violence.
And there are some people I have sent to jail that I'm a little nervous about. There's a couple in particular. A superior judge can send somebody to prison for life. And you never know whether a relative, or friend or an associate, what they would do.
I do want to make one interesting point. You talked about the prosecutor, whether or not she may have been a target, had she been there. I talked to a Fulton County police officer tonight. And he told me they thought they had closed in on this car twice.
But he also told me the arresting detective, who made this horrific rape case against this evil individual, that the detective had told him how much this individual despised him. And the detective was late coming to court, because he helped a stranded motorist coming down Georgia 400 south from North Fulton.
SCHWALL: And so, if he hadn't have been late, no telling what would have happened there. I don't know what else you could have done differently security-wise. I just think it's just an aberration. It's a horrible, horrible tragedy, unthinkable. And I don't know how you plan for something that you could really never imagine.
ROWLANDS: And Brian Nichols, still at large, after shooting a judge, a court clerk and a sheriff's deputy in Atlanta, at 9:00 Eastern this morning. Still at large at this hour.
We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, ATLANTA, GA: We recognize that this is a very scary situation. We have witnessed in Atlanta today an act of violence in the criminal justice system that is certainly disconcerting, but we've come to offer our condolences to the families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: 33-year-old Brian Nichols still at large after killing a judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy this morning in Atlanta, Georgia. Candice DeLong, former FBI profiler is in San Francisco tonight. Candice, this is a guy who is a computer technician, a relatively -- actually a non-existent criminal record until the allegations of rape. The case against him the first time around ended in a hung jury. This was a retrial here. It would seem that the guy had a legitimate chance of getting off of this if the jury came back 8-4 the first time. What would push him to take this chance and commit this horrific crime?
DELONG: Well, apparently, somewhere in his mind, he developed the idea, misplaced though it may have been, that the judge was his enemy. And it appears that he, you know, probably was motivated to punish the judge.
It certainly has crossed my mind since I've heard this story, if he got a mistrial the first time, why would he think he might not get a mistrial this time? Perhaps he ruled in some way, maybe raised his eyebrow the wrong way, and this guy felt he was going to take him out.
ROWLANDS: Judy Cramer, court administrator, knowing what you do about the logistics of the courtroom, the courthouse in Atlanta, did Brian Nichols have an unusual opportunity here, a window to steal the gun, overpower the deputy and go, or was -- was this actual -- was this status quo in terms of security? What I mean, was there a lapse possibly that he took advantage of, or did he just go for it and try to overpower and be successful with this deputy?
CRAMER: I really don't know what happened in the courtroom where he overpowered the deputy, which was on the other side of the hall and the walkway. I do know that normally, in all trials, we have strong deputy sheriffs who protect the judges. Every judge has a deputy sheriff assigned to them, and then when there's going to be a trial, we add deputy sheriffs, the sheriff does.
So I am of strong conviction that the deputies did what they would have normally done, and that was to protect the judge in the courtroom.
What happened, though, with the woman deputy that was overpowered, we still don't have a report with all the details. We have put a number of precautions in the courtrooms, with cameras, so people can see who's coming in, and can choose to let people in or not let them in.
You know, we have a number of precautions through a security committee which meets regularly with judges and all of the sheriff's staff and others in the courthouse, to go over security procedures. We just finished a security manual. There's a new house bill that was signed last year, allowing a judge to call an emergency and shut the courtroom down.
ROWLANDS: So probably, this is a case where you just couldn't predict it, and security, as the judge said earlier, and Chris Pixley alluded to, security in this facility is as it should be, and this was just a case where somebody went for it and was successful.
Gary Tuchman, from what you know about this suspect, we're hearing some reports that he may have a shaved head. The photo that we're seeing is that he has some hair. What can you tell us about the possibility that he has either a shaved head right now or a different hairstyle?
TUCHMAN: Well, that's one of the things authorities are looking at. They're wondering the possibility that he has some kind of disguise or if he shaved his head. So they're putting out pictures of him with short hair and with the shaved head.
One thing I do want to mention, Ted, that you just touched upon, is why this guy would have taken the risk at doing this, at trying to escape, stealing a gun, and going into the courthouse, shooting the judge and the court reporter.
And we were told by the assistant district attorney trying this case, Gail Abramson, that yes, there was a hung jury two weeks ago. Eight of the jurors were willing to acquit this man. But she says this case is going much better. She was confident she was going to win this case, and she claims that what happened was that yesterday, Brian Nichols came up to her and kind of softly said to her in a sarcastic way, "you're doing a lot better this time, aren't you?"
ROWLANDS: Chris Pixley, when you go back to this courthouse on Monday, are you going to feel safe? You said that it is a safe courthouse. What are your feelings going back there?
PIXLEY: Well, first of all, I don't know that there will be immediate changes to security. I do think it's something that I know that Fulton County will go and look at. I think the chief judge will be looking at it and I think the judges themselves will be active in the process.
But you know, Gary raised an important point, too, Ted, that this is not a defendant who was facing minor charges. He was being charged with multiple violent felonies. So it's not somebody who just made an irrational decision when they were on trial for something much more minor.
If Brian Nichols had been convicted this time around, I suspect with all of the charges against him, that he would have been facing life without parole. And so you're talking about being incarcerated for 14 years minimum before his TPM comes up, before he has any chance of parole. Most of the time, that doesn't happen the first time around, and you don't have another chance for another eight years. So this was a man facing probably a minimum of 22 years behind bars, and I think that that may very well have lent to the desperate situation where he decided really to go forward and take some lives.
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols still at large after killing a Superior Court judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy in Atlanta, Georgia. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYRON FREEMAN, FULTON COUNTY SHERIFF: Again, I want to remind you that Mr. Nichols is considered armed and extremely dangerous. Do not, I repeat, do not approach this suspect under any circumstances.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a female deputy. She started crying. I said, please tell me what's going on. And she said, the defendant got the gun and shot the judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols remains at large after shooting a judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy in Atlanta this morning. Candice DeLong, former FBI profiler, what is this guy going to do that's going to get him caught?
DELONG: Well, he's eventually going to have to commit more crimes. He needs money. If he's in that car, he needs gasoline. He is going to have to either steal another car.
When you're on the run like this and the whole -- I'm sure this is an incredibly super-saturation media issue in the state of Georgia. Here I am in San Francisco, and that's all I've been hearing on the radio and TV all day.
My experience has been in the last several years, on cases where there is immediate mega, mega media saturation, looking for an individual, where there is a photograph shown, it ends rather quickly. Someone will see this guy, someone will call in, or simply -- someone that knows him -- or simply someone who is just aware of the case will spot him and call it in.
ROWLANDS: Any chance he gives himself up?
DELONG: There's a chance, but I can't see it. I think he made the decision that he was ready to die after he took out that first deputy, took her gun, and then went to the court to kill the judge.
ROWLANDS: Gary Tuchman, talking to law enforcement, is this something that they will continue at until, as they say, they have this individual in custody? Can you feel that they're going to be working 24 hours until this is over?
TUCHMAN: They certainly will. There is no news conferences scheduled. Obviously, the news conference we just saw at 9:30 Eastern time didn't have very much to tell us. But we can tell you that the authorities we've been talking to, state, local and federal police, feel this man will be caught and there is a high probability he'll be caught in the overnight hours tonight, not because we know anything about where he is, but this man has to go to sleep, and they feel that there's a high probability that in the overnight hours they could have a capture.
We do want to tell you that we want to confirm what Chris just told you before, that he faced during this rape trial the possibility of life plus five years in prison. So if he was found guilty, he would have been in prison for much of his adult life. ROWLANDS: A lot of people are facing that and they don't do what he's allegedly accused of doing here this morning in Atlanta.
Judy Cramer, from what you know about security and the courthouse itself, it seems hard to believe that this individual could do what he did and then get out of the courthouse without sheriff's deputies being alerted by radio. What can you tell us about the -- is that surprising to you?
CRAMER: It is to me. But you know, we were in lockdown. So my job was to try to keep the staff who were in the building secure with information from the sheriff. And what I did through the morning hours in lockdown is talk with judges, keep everybody inside courtrooms, make sure juries were safe, and make sure the staff were not panicking.
During that time, we got conflicting information throughout those four hours. Really, getting most from the news media, when we could see TV. As we go back over the details on Monday and through the next week, I'm sure we will find places where we can tweak security. But like I said before, I think they have done an outstanding job in our courthouse, making us at least feel safe, and we are going to certainly change the way we do some business.
But, yes, we are all surprised that he got out so quickly.
ROWLANDS: Quickly, Chris Pixley, Brian Nichols is in civilian clothes. That is his right, is it not, as a criminal defendant here, so the jury doesn't see him in the prison uniform?
PIXLEY: Yeah, and there's really -- it's a difficult situation, because the U.S. Supreme Court has even recognized the right that a criminal defendant has not to have the shackles on, not to be -- give off the appearance of already having been convicted.
And so in that respect, they have to be brought from holding, they have to first be brought over from the Fulton County jail, then brought into a holding area, be brought out of holding. And at some point in time, they have to be dressed, they have to be unshackled. And the real question is, how many people should you and can you have there with them during that period of time? How much security is enough?
ROWLANDS: OK, thanks, Chris Pixley. Brian Nichols still on the loose.
That is it for us tonight. Thanks to our guests -- Nancy Grace, Atlanta Judge Craig Schwall, Court Administrator Judy Cramer, also CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman, Atlanta defense attorney Chris Pixley, and former FBI profiler, Candice DeLong.
Thank you for watching, thanks to Larry King for allowing me to sit in here this evening. "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next. Good night.
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