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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Brian Nichols Captured
Aired March 12, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, after more than 24 hours of terror, Atlanta courthouse killing suspect Brian Nichols caught this morning. And as the details of his capture and of his background emerge, we'll have the latest. We'll talk with Brian Nichols' aunt and his cousin, plus his defense attorney, Barry Hazen.
Donald O'Briant, the reporter who Nichols allegedly pistol- whipped and carjacked and more. It is all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks for joining us, I am Ted Rowlands in tonight for Larry King. Before we get the latest details on the capture today from CNN's Gary Tuchman who has been following this for the past two days. We're going to go to Regina Dow, who is Brian Nichols' aunt. She joins us by phone from Baltimore, MD.
Regina, we talked earlier. Your feelings tonight as the reality of what Brian Nichols is accused of is setting in.
REGINA DOW, BRIAN NICHOLS' AUNT: Yes it is. We would like to offer our condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one during this ordeal. That was not Brian at all. That person is not the Brian that we know, we raised. Something must have snapped.
ROWLANDS: What do you mean, not the person you know you raised. How would you have described Brian Nichols before seeing him these last few days.
DOW: Brian is a very, very sweet person. He would do anything for anyone. So evidently there is something that happened in his life that threw him off that he could get back from. I don't know what to say about this at this time.
ROWLANDS: Were you aware that he was accused of raping his girlfriend and was on trial?
DOW: Yes, I was. There is some issue with that too.
ROWLANDS: Was the family supporting Brian? Did they think that he was innocent? Did you think that he was innocent of that?
DOW: We knew Adelle (ph) too and she's a very sweet person, too. And we knew some of the things happened but we didn't think everything happened just as she said.
ROWLANDS: Has anyone in the family had a chance to talk to Brian? Has he called his parents, called you, or anyone else in the family?
DOW: Talking to my sister by email, she's in Africa.
ROWLANDS: And she has talked to ...
DOW: No. She hasn't talked to Brian at all.
ROWLANDS: And what are your thoughts here? What should -- you mentioned sympathy for the victims here. What do you think should happen to Brian, given what he is accused of, if indeed he is guilty of what he's accused of?
DOW: Well, I can't say what should happen to him. He needs help. Something is obviously wrong with his mind right now.
ROWLANDS: What was he doing for a living and living in Atlanta, I take it. What was -- Tell us about his life leading up to this.
DOW: OK -- Say that again.
ROWLANDS: What was he doing before he was arrested for the rape charge? What kind of life was he leading? Did he have a job? Was he stable?
DOW: He had a job -- Job, a house, a living, everything. He lived a normal life. A normal life just like everyone else.
ROWLANDS: What were your feelings watching this here? What did you think? How have you been thinking and what are you thinking now.
DOW: I've been up all night long and I can watch this over and over and over again and as I said, the person who has been on this television has not been the Brian that we know. He is someone -- The whole demeanor is different. There is a blank look in his eyes that is not Brian.
ROWLANDS: He looks different to you?
DOW: He even looks different.
ROWLANDS: How much time did you spend with him? Did you grow up with him?
DOW: I'm his aunt. Yes. I mean, most of his life we were together until we moved.
ROWLANDS: When did he move to Atlanta.
DOW: Oh, wow, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about, nine, 10, about 10 years I guess.
ROWLANDS: Ten years ago, as an adult.
Do you plan to get in touch with him, communicate with him, support him through this? DOW: Of course. He's my nephew and no matter what he did he's still a person that I love. The -- The people who lost people, I'm sorry for those people, too, but he's still my family and I do love him. And he needs help. There's something wrong.
ROWLANDS: All right. Regina Dow on the phone with us from Maryland talking about Brian Nichols. She is Brian Nichols' aunt watching this along with the rest of the country over the last few days. Brian Nichols is accused of killing four people now in Atlanta, Georgia, and the focus of a manhunt which came to an end this morning in Atlanta. Gary Tuchman, CNN correspondent, has been covering this from the beginning.
Gary, what could you tell us about where he is now and what's the next step for Mr. Nichols?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brian -- excuse me for saying that, Ted, I was very anxious to say the worlds Brian Nichols because he is the subject of the last 35 hours and it was really an extraordinary day and a quarter before he was captured today.
Right now he is in a federal courthouse right down the street from where we're standing in Atlanta City Hall. Also, right down the street from the state courthouse where this all began yesterday.
But there is a hero in this situation and that is a woman who was taken captive inside her own apartment in Gwinnett, County, Georgia, which his about 30 minutes north of here. She was able to get out of the house, we still don't know how, called 911 and that's what alerted authorities that this man was inside her home. They came, about 30 members of a SWAT team, federal and local officials, and Brian Nichols did not come out and shoot the police. He did not come out and shoot himself. He waved a white cloth and surrendered.
Now, before that, authorities are telling us that last night around 10 o'clock he mugged two tourists in the Buckhead district in Atlanta, trying to get money and a vehicle. He didn't get a vehicle, he hurt one of the people, those people called it in, and authorities are working on the assumption that it was Brian Nichols who did that mugging.
About an hour or two later, according to authorities, at that point, Nichols murdered an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent. He then took his badge, he took his gun, he took his vehicle, and he ended up going to this home in Gwinnett County where he ultimately surrendered.
But it was quite a scene today while he was being transported to the FBI facility here in DeKalb County, Georgia, which is about 15 minutes away from here. There were 30 to 40 agents, federal and local, with rifles and military fatigues aiming them at the car that Nichols was in.
Nichols ultimately came out of the car, was processed, fingerprinted for about an hour and then left and now he is in that federal courthouse. It's likely he'll have his first day in court early next week.
ROWLANDS: What do we know about this women that Nichols apparently spent considerable time with in her apartment. Who is she?
TUCHMAN: Well, that's a really good question because it is certainly a really good story. Originally we were hearing that maybe they knew each other. It's a question we asked at a news conference earlier today here at Atlanta City Hall and they said they absolutely did not know each other, that this woman was a captive in her own home and the natural question is, well, how did she get out to dial 911?
The wouldn't tell us. My theory is, though, you have to remember, this guy has to sleep. He's not a machine. He may have fallen asleep, she may have slipped out. I think that may be the story you ultimately hear. But she was able to call 911, the authorities came, and this finally all came to an end.
ROWLANDS: Did she actually leave with Nichols at one point in a separate car? Is that accurate?
TUCHMAN: That's what we're being told. That Nichols wanted to get rid of the car of the agent that he allegedly killed. So he asked her to go along in her car, follow him so he could dump off the car in another location and drive back in her car and he said if you don't do it you'll be in trouble. And apparently she did do it and went back with him but she was able to get out of her house.
ROWLANDS: Barry Hazen is Brian Nichols defense attorney. Or he was during the rape trial and the retrial which concluded -- which was going on when the shootings took place. Mr. Hazen, you saw the suspect on Thursday. Did you get any feeling that something was wrong? Was there any change in his demeanor?
BARRY HAZEN, NICHOLS' DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There was change in his demeanor. He had been actually fairly lighthearted during the course of the trial. If anything, he may have been even more jovial on Thursday. He maintained a sense of humor, he would talk freely, he was social during breaks. I didn't get any sense that there was any depression or any brooding taking place or any downward slide in his feelings at all. He was pretty upbeat.
ROWLANDS: Are you still his lawyer?
HAZEN: Well, I am certainly his attorney for the rape case. Until and unless I am relieved of my obligations, I continue to represent him in that. I don't know what the state's intentions will be. Whether they'll pursue the rape case or just go ahead on the homicides but I am his attorney for that particular case. Yes, still.
ROWLANDS: Have you tried to contact him or would that be something that you would do in your capacity as a lawyer for the rape case or do you just wait and see?
HAZEN: Well, I haven't tried to contact him today. I am certain that all of the attention today has to do with the brand new case and I don't think many people are really concerned about this point about the rape case because the quadruple homicide is certainly a much more severe case. But at some point in time, probably within the next three or four days, we're going to have to deal with the case because we just can't leave it open as a dangling thread. We have to do something with it.
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols' first quarter appearance could come as early as Monday. We'll have much more after this break on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT COUNTY P.D.: An officer responded to the call of a woman who said that Mr. Nichols was in fact in her apartment and had held her captive for a certain amount of time. She was able to get out of the apartment and call us. We activated our SWAT team and uniformed people in the SWAT folks were able to contain the area. We had approximately 30 officers on the scene, 30 SWAT officers on the scene.
Shortly after their arrival, Mr. Nichols surrendered, literally waving a white flag. So it ended as well as a situation like this can possibly end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: We've said goodbye to Regina Dow, Brian Nichols' aunt who was on the phone with us from Maryland. But now on the phone with us is Reginald Small, Brian Nichols' cousin, who is also in the Baltimore area and I guess Brian Nichols grew up in Baltimore, Reginald?
REGINALD SMALL, BRIAN NICHOLS' COUSIN: I didn't hear you. Say it again, please?
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols grew up with you, basically, in Baltimore, is that the case?
SMALL: Yes. Yes.
ROWLANDS: Well what are your thoughts when you watch this, you see him. We just heard Regina say he looks like a different person. Do you agree with that or did you see indications about that?
SMALL: Yeah. Yeah. I was watching and I would have to agree. The biggest thing that I remember always about Brian was that he always had a smile on his face and that just don't look like the Brian that I grew up with.
ROWLANDS: Was there any indication growing up, you're his older cousin, that he would be capable of this rage or anything like that?
SMALL: None. None whatsoever. Brian comes from a beautiful background. He was always a fun-loving, well-mannered kid. Nothing would point to this. He is an intelligent young man, good-natured. Totally shocked.
ROWLANDS: Are you going to support him as he goes through this?
SMALL: Of course. Of course. My family, we send our condolences out to the families, to the loved ones and it is a tragic, it is a terrible tragedy all around, but Brian is still our family. We love him and we know something is not right. This is just not him.
ROWLANDS: Clearly, the death penalty is going to be on the table for prosecutors. Would you fight that and hope that they would spare his life because of what you say, this person who was such a good person?
SMALL: Well, not only because of that, but, me, personally, I don't agree with the death penalty. But when you throw in the fact that it's a family member, of course, I don't want to see Brian put to death ...
ROWLANDS: But you could see how possibly many people would be calling for that given what he did?
SMALL: Yes. Like I said, it's a heinous thing going on that he's been accused of and it's a tragedy all around but I'm not in a position to suggest whether his life should be taken and I don't think no one else is. God is the only one that can sit in judgment of him for this.
ROWLANDS: Harry Hazen, was Judge Rowland Barnes extraordinarily difficult on your client during the trial? Was there reason that you could think of that he would develop a rage towards the judge? Typically a defendant is angry against a prosecutor, but there seems to be a connection usually with judges and defendants. Was this judge hard on him?
HAZEN: No. In fact, of all of the judges in the superior court in Fulton County, I would say the one judge who did not transmit any animosity toward a defendant was Rowland Barnes, no matter what his rulings, no matter what his comments, this was a man who always exuded and even-handed demeanor.
Even if he didn't like your client, a jury wouldn't know it by listening to him and watching him.
ROWLANDS: Don O'Briant is a journalist for the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution." He was allegedly carjacked by Mr. Nichols in the parking garage and you can see that he is wearing a patch over his eye from the injuries in that incident.
He has been described -- has Brian Nichols, as calm by many people that encountered him during this rampage. What's your take on his demeanor as he approached you?
DON O'BRIANT, "ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": Well, as he was -- didn't seem nervous at all. He was totally in control and the orders he gave me sounded like they were coming from a drill sergeant, not someone who was on the run.
ROWLANDS: And he told you to get in the trunk of the car.
O'BRIANT: He said, "Get in the trunk of the car or I'll kill you."
ROWLANDS: You had given him the keys. And then, what did you do?
O'BRIANT: I said, "No," and I took a step back he walked toward me and the next thing I knew he had hit me and I was on the concrete. And I scrambled to my feet and darted to the street and kept waiting for the shots to ring out but he didn't follow me and didn't shoot, for some reason.
ROWLANDS: Your car, your green Honda, of course, was the subject of a nationwide search for many hours. The car ended up in the same parking garage that it started out in. Did you actually see him driving your car at all?
O'BRIANT: No questions -- I didn't look back. I was just trying to get away. But I noticed that they found it on a different level than where I had parked it.
ROWLANDS: So you didn't actually watch him drive away and you would ...
ROWLANDS: ... not be able to say if he went up or down in the parking structure.
O'BRIANT: No. He had the keys and I was just trying to get away as fast as I could.
ROWLANDS: Do you. Obviously you are thanking your lucky stars there that you're alive given the situation. At the time did you think that this was just an individual looking for a car or did you have any comprehension of the magnitude of it and the danger that you were in.
O'BRIANT: No. I thought it was a routine carjacking, if you can call a carjacking such a -- routine. But I gave him the keys. I was getting ready to give him my wallet and that's when he told me to get in the trunk and I knew this was serious and ...
ROWLANDS: Barry Hazen, did you -- You said you didn't see anything different in terms of behavior, any marked differences in behavior leading up to the incident. What about the differences in the trials that he went through. This was a retrial on the rape.
ROWLANDS: The trial that ended in a hung jury, eight-four for the defendant. Was there a marked difference in the trial that was presented here or do you think Brian Nichols thought he was going to lose this time around?
HAZEN: Yes. There was a substantial difference between the first and second trials. There was a lot more evidence in the second case, mostly of a corroborative nature. There were claims that were made that were just uncorroborated during the first trial and the question was, who's telling the truth?
In the second trial, there was a lot more evidence that corroborated certain claims that were made. Items were tested that weren't tested in the first case. For instance, red spots in a bathtub, or red spots on his scissors were not even tested when the first case was presented -- when the first trial was conducted.
During the second trial, the lab had already tested the scissors and determined that it was blood of human origin and there were phone records and other kinds of things that had never been presented during the first case. It was a much more muscular presentation on the part of the state during the second trial than had been in the first.
ROWLANDS: Reginald Small, what do you think should happen to Brian, your cousin?
SMALL: Can you repeat that? I didn't catch it all.
ROWLANDS: What should happen to Brian Nichols? What, in your estimation?
SMALL: I'm hoping and praying that he is evaluated to see what's going on with him. What happened to cause him to -- for all this to happen. And he should be in custody until we find out what's wrong.
ROWLANDS: Thank you, Reginald Small, joining us by phone from Baltimore, the cousin of Brian Nichols.
We'll have much more LARRY KING LIVE coming up.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): It was a scene of chaos in Downtown Atlanta. It started as the workday was just beginning at the Fulton County courthouse. On the eighth floor, 33-year-old Brian Nichols was being retried on charges of rape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect was on his way to the courtroom. It appears that he overwhelmed a deputy sheriff on his way to court, and it appears that he took possession of her handgun.
TUCHMAN: Authorities believe Nichols fled Downtown Atlanta in O'Briant's green Honda Accord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nichols is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we are releasing right now is we do have a hostage situation. SWAT is employed. TUCHMAN: The end of a 26-hour manhunt. SWAT teams close in on courthouse shooting suspect hiding out in an apartment in an Atlanta suburb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after the arrival of our SWAT team, Mr. Nichols surrendered to us without incident.
ROWLANDS: L. David Wolfe is a criminal defense attorney. He knew Judge Rowland Barnes for 15 years and he is with us as well here tonight. You know this courthouse well. You know Rowland Barnes' chamber well. What should be done in terms of security in this courthouse and possibly in other courthouses around the country, given what happened?
L. DAVID WOLFE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I tried many cases in the old courthouse and the lockup was down in the basement and for every one of the courtrooms they would have to bring the people up through an elevator in the old courthouse and then actually walk them through the hallways amidst the citizens that were there for their respective purposes. In the new courthouse, they've developed an excellent system that brings the inmates up from the lockup down below into an alcove between all of the courtrooms and it's really quite secure.
They have got to stop using the old courthouse and they've got to enhance the security bringing the inmates from the lockup into the courtroom and perhaps even put a covering in front of the tables where the inmates sit so their feet can be shackled and they'll be a bit more safety for everybody in the courtroom.
ROWLANDS: Chris Pixley is an Atlanta-based defense attorney as well. Frequently using this courthouse as a place of work. He knows it well. Tell us, Chris, when a defendant has the right to change into civilian clothes because of the court trial, the jury trial that he is involved in, what happens? In this case apparently he was alone with one deputy.
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yeah, and the question is really whether we're going to get a new standardized procedure where you're going to commonly have two deputies with them at all times but there's a progression that goes on here where they're brought over from the Fulton County Jail, they are then put in the detention center in the Justice Center tower and they ultimately are moved to a smaller -- to a single facility that is right off of the courtroom.
But, again, there is this major distinction between the old and the new courthouses that are connected here and so when you're transporting these inmates, ultimately to court, different -- completely different things are going to happen. Ultimately, in this situation, where Judge Barnes had asked for increased security I think there is no question that if he is going to have increased security in a court room there is a great argument for having increased security for that entire transportation period.
But, of course, there were many things that could have been done that weren't done and he wasn't wearing a shock belt, he wasn't -- There was not any extra security put in place other than the addition of a deputy in the courtroom and ultimately that wasn't where he broke free.
ROWLANDS: Gary Tuchman, apparently Brian Nichols after getting the gun of the first deputy which he overcame, Cynthia Hall, he went searching for Judge Rowland Barnes. He had some folks in Rowland Barnes' office, in his chamber for a while, they were under a table. He then took a few more deputies. It seems difficult to comprehend that he could do this, in fact, so many people in the courthouse and get out of the courthouse? How did he do it?
TUCHMAN: Well, Ted, in addition to that, after he took the first gun, he took another gun from another deputy. So police are saying he had two guns. He did all this, ran into the courtroom, shot the judge, shot the reporter, then walked down eight flights, ended up in the streets, and you're wondering, as a normal person would, how could you possibly get away?
So the question we asked the sheriff of Fulton County today, the sheriff is the man in charge of the security of the courthouse buildings. He was pretty blunt and pretty frank with us. He says, I've only been in the job two months and it's something we're going to have to look at, the security procedures in our courthouse.
ROWLANDS: One of the things that people have said about Brian Nichols is that he has been -- He was very calm, very calculated and in control during this rampage.
Candice DeLong is a retired FBI profiler. She is in San Francisco tonight. Did his demeanor help him out in that he most likely did not raise any eyebrows while walking through the courthouse because he was in plain clothes? He had a gun with him, but people could have thought that he was a member of the law enforcement.
CANDICE DELONG, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: Of course. If he had been running around, screaming, yelling, acting crazy, that would have drawn a lot of attention to him. I mean, I think the fact that he was cool, calm and calculated, the whole thing, all of his behavior, speak to premeditation. There are certainly some things about his behaviors that are very, very hard to understand. For example, his defense attorney there with you said this judge, from his attorney's opinion, hadn't done anything that could even be perceived as negative or a threat to Mr. Nichols.
I find ...
ROWLANDS: So why would he go after the judge?
DELONG: Well, that's a -- that's the one question I would ask him if I could ask him one question. It would be why the judge and secondarily, why the court reporter? Did you just want to kill people? One of the things that also struck me, listening to his aunt and his cousin talk about this is not the Brian they know, I think one of the most telling things about this whole story is what he -- the behavior he exhibited for what he was on trial for, the rape of the ex-girlfriend, was, from what I understand, went on for some time. Quite a bit of planning. He planned to do it over a three-day period. He even apparently brought food with him, I understand, because he was planning on torturing this woman for such a long time.
ROWLANDS: Do you think he planned this?
DELONG: Do I think he planned this? What he did yesterday? Oh yes. Oh, yes, everything about it. There's nothing that looks chaotic about it to me.
ROWLANDS: So you don't think it was -- an opportunity presented itself and he just went with his gut. You think he sat, thought it all out and then went on this rampage?
DELONG: Yes. And I think that it's clear that escaping from his trial was not the primary motivating factor behind what happened yesterday. Because he could have escaped after he overpowered the first guard. He went looking for and found the judge of his own trial and killed him, then the court reporter, then kills another marshal. I mean, why did he do that?
Because that was what was most important to him, that's why he did it.
ROWLANDS: We're looking at video now of the woman that apparently Brian Nichols had with him for a number of hours in her apartment. This is the woman that Gary Tuchman earlier said is most likely the hero in all of this.
Candice DeLong, had this woman acted differently, maybe lost her cool, would this have changed the outcome here? It sounds like this woman was able to keep him at bay, if you will, and then either sneak out or get out.
DELONG: Well, I'd like to hear her story, too. I'm sure we will in the next few days. How a victim responds to a perpetrator oftentimes can have a very profound effect on how the perpetrator treats them. This we know. And it sounds like she did everything right. The fact that she is alive tells me whatever she did it was the right thing to do.
It also could be simply -- boil down to something as simple as he didn't want to fire off another round. If you look at the footage of where she lives, it looks like there were a lot of people around. Of course, he's a great big guy, if we wanted her dead, he could have strangled her and he didn't, so whatever she did, it worked, because she's here to tell her story.
ROWLANDS: All right. Brian Nichols accused of killing Judge Rowland Barnes, Julie Brandau, court reporter, Sgt. Hoyt Teasley and possibly David Wilhelm, a customs agent during a rampage in Atlanta, Georgia. He is in custody. We'll have much more after a break. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GAIL ABRAMSON, FULTON COUNTY ASSISTANT D.A.: I do think that in his mind he knew he was going to be convicted this time and so I think that he was just seeking revenge to the criminal justice system.
TUCHMAN: It was, for Brian Nichols, his first serious brush with the law. The charges had been brought by the woman with whom he'd had a seven year relationship. She had even bought a condo for him to live in. Thirty-three years old, Nichols is a big man, once a linebacker for his college football team.
ROWLANDS: Brian Nichols is in federal custody tonight in Atlanta, Georgia. Chris Pixley, who takes this case? The feds or the state? And do they both want it or would they rather the others take it? How does it work?
PIXLEY: Yeah, well, they're both going to want it, I think, right now. But the formal reason he is in federal custody is that he is likely to be charged with murder of a federal agent under section 11.14 of the U.S. code. Now that makes the killing of a federal employee punishable by death or life in prison.
With that said, though, Ted, he's only being held right now on federal gun charges, and as the facts unfold, it appears that the state case against him is much stronger than the federal case so -- And certainly that's particularly true if the killing of this federal customs agent this morning is something that didn't occur in the custom agent's official duties. So probably the only thing that's certain at this point is that the Fulton County district attorney will be charging Brian Nichols with three counts of murder and I think that the state definitely has the stronger case. They will probably lead for that reason.
And given the nature of the crime, the number of witnesses, this will be a death penalty case.
ROWLANDS: L. David Wolfe, how common are death penalty cases in the State of Georgia and do you believe this will be a death case?
WOLFE: Well, I certainly do think it'll be a death case. One of the statutory aggravating circumstances under which you can seek the death penalty in Georgia is that the murder was committed while another murder was being committed. So with regard to what happened in the courtroom, you certainly have a statutory aggravating circumstance.
Plus, he can be tried for the death penalty for each of the victims, the deputy sheriff downstairs and the two people in the courtroom. So they can go one at a time and it seems likely that that is what they'll do. And then the federal government would still have an opportunity to do the same once their investigation is complete. ROWLANDS: Gary Tuchman, I understand that Brian Nichols is being described as cooperative. Is there any word that he has confessed?
TUCHMAN: We know he has talked a little. We know specifically one thing he has talked about. The police chief here in Atlanta, I was asking him, one of the things they told us is that he didn't have a getaway car. He took the Atlanta subway system, known as MARTA. That's what he did.
So I said, how did you know that? Is there video in the subway system that showed that? And he says, "No, Nichols told us." With the regards to the charges, Chris Pixley is exactly right. With regard to this federal charge, right now it's a holding charge, basically. It's a weapons charge. It just allows them to hold them why they investigate the case further. It is sure that he will be charged with four murders. It could take up to 30 days to do that and they told us during this news conference that the state will get the first crack at this case no matter what happens.
ROWLANDS: OK. So that's been established. He'll face state charges before the federal government can go through with a murder charge because apparently the death of David Wilhelm, a customs agent who was also a possible victim of Brian Nichols.
Barry Hazen, when can Brian Nichols, in this situation, talk to a lawyer. Could he have talked to a lawyer already? What are his rights right now?
HAZEN: Well, my understanding is that some of the lawyers from death penalty defense tried to get to him today and they were not allowed to get to him. They were told that because I was his attorney they would not let him in. I then placed a call to Atlanta Police homicide to let them know that I did not represent him on the murder charges and it was my understanding that they did.
So they ought to be able to talk to him immediately.
ROWLANDS: Don O'Briant, what's your physical condition now? I see the eye patch there. What is your physical condition?
O'BRIANT: Well, the eye looks pretty ugly, but my wrist -- I broke my wrist, it's going to have to have a plate put in it surgically next week, I think. Otherwise I feel lucky and a lot better than I did yesterday.
ROWLANDS: I know you're a reporter, so you probably won't share this. What do you think should happen to Brian Nichols.
O'BRIANT: Well, if what they say is true, by his change in personality, I certainly think an evaluation is in order.
ROWLANDS: And what's the mood of Atlanta? You work and live there. What are people thinking about what happened here and what's the mood?
O'BRIANT: I really haven't been out that much. It's hard to say. I think they've all been glued to the TV sets to see if he was caught and now I think they'll be thinking about what's going to happen now.
ROWLANDS: All right. Brain Nichols remains in federal custody this evening. He is expect to make his first court appearance, possibly, as early as tomorrow. Accused of murdering four people on Friday and Saturday morning in Atlanta, Georgia.
More LARRY KING LIVE coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT CO. POLICE CHIEF: An officer responded to the call of a woman who said that Mr. Nichols was in fact in her apartment and had held her captive for a certain amount of time. She was able to get out of the apartment and call us. We activated our SWAT team and uniformed people and that SWAT folks were able to contain the area. We had approximately 30 officers on the scene. Thirty SWAT officers on the scene. Shortly after their arrival, Mr. Nichols surrendered, literally waving a white flag.
So it ended as well as a situation like this can possibly end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Fulton County sheriff's deputy Cynthia Hall who was the sheriff's deputy that Brian Nichols wrestled away the gun from and started this rampage on Friday is in critical condition. Gary Tuchman, I think that is actually a downgrade. She was critical but stable. What is her situation?
TUCHMAN: Well, what's interesting about her situation is we initially reported yesterday that she was shot after her gun was taken away. Then we talked to the doctor and he said her injuries in her face are so severe that it's not clear if she was shot or she was hit. So she is in critical condition, it is believed to be stable, however, but it's very serious injuries to her face. So serious that they can't tell if it was from a bullet or not.
But the doctor, if he had to guess, he thought that she wasn't shot.
ROWLANDS: Don O'Briant, your newspaper, the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" is reporting that judges and lawyers had been raising security concerns for years. Do you know anything about that and is that accurate?
O'BRIANT: I'm not sure about that. I haven't heard anything.
ROWLANDS: L. David Wolfe, you practiced law there. Chris Pixley, either one of you know about -- Is that accurate? And did you have concerns? David Wolfe?
WOLFE: Yes, I do know over the years there have been concerns raised and yeah, you always have concerns when people are knowing that the evidence is going bad and they're going to be convicted, that they really have nothing less to leave and I've seen them looking at the doors and I've seen people stand up and generally when there is a serious case going on, there are enough deputies in the courtroom. The problem with this case was that it was a situation where this fellow came from the other building into Judge Barnes' chambers and courtroom and nobody was anticipating that he would be there.
Had he been in the courtroom I think there would have been sufficient security there. It was the unforeseeable conduct that made all of this possible.
ROWLANDS: And Judge Rowland Barnes was in early for a civil matter, something he accounted -- or he allowed to happen before the Brian Nichols case resumed that morning.
Barry Hazen, Brian Nichols, your client, was caught with two, what they're called, shanks, basically weapons, on Thursday. What was said after that and did Judge Rowland Barnes ask for an increase in security and what in terms of communication with you was said from the judge after that incident?
HAZEN: We arrived on Thursday morning and this would have been the day before the shooting. Judge Barnes called me and the two assistant district attorneys who were prosecuting the case into his chambers. He showed us photostatic copies of photographs of what appeared to be hinges that were about seven inches, two inches wide and you could see that there was some thickness to them.
One of them had a hole drilled through it and it was a piece of material about a foot and half long so you could swing this metal block around. They had been found, one in each shoe, by a deputy taking him from the courthouse back to the jail.
Judge Barnes indicated that he was going to provide more, and the word he used was, "beef" in the courtroom. And I can say that on the way out he actually said to me that usually the people who are most in danger by disgruntled defendants are defense attorneys, not judges or prosecutors, because prosecutors and judges are presumed to be doing their jobs but defense attorneys are presumed to not be doing their job if defendants get convicted. And he said to me, as he put his on a Mac (ph), be careful, because after all, I was the one sitting next to him in the courtroom and unfortunately it didn't happen that way for Judge Barnes.
ROWLANDS: And you said your case was not going so well. You were not in the courtroom when Brian Nichols came in with the gun. If you had been in that courtroom do you think you would be around now? Would you be a target?
HAZEN: I think so, and the reason I think so is because he shot the court reporter. Now you could understand him shooting the judge in the irrationality of the whole act. But the court reporter would not have been anyone -- Julie was not anyone who had any ax to grind at all, so shooting her had to be just gratuitous violence and I think he either would have shot me because he thought I was part of the system that was ultimately going to result in his conviction or just, if he was engaged in just shooting anybody who was there and who was a familiar face, I think there but for the grace of God I'm here to talk about it rather than people talking about me.
ROWLANDS: Candice DeLong, do you think that Barry Hazen would have been a victim in this case had he been in that courtroom?
DELONG: Very likely. And probably anybody else who might have been around. If the prosecutor had been in there, yeah. I mean the fact that he killed the court reporter makes absolutely -- none of this makes sense but that makes less sense than anything and ...
ROWLANDS: Why was he so concerned about his own safety in that he waved a white flag and -- he didn't want to be killed during the arrest.
ROWLANDS: He made the decision. This is a guy who went on a rampage, killing people as they came at him, allegedly. Now when the jig is up, he waves a white flag.
ROWLANDS: He doesn't want to be killed and he doesn't go into a shootout. Why?
DELONG: What infamous recently-deposed dictator does that remind you of? Who said he would fight to the death but then was arrested in a spider hole?
One of the things that we frequently see in men who are abusers and just looking at what he was on trial, for the rape, that looks like an abusive person to me, it's interesting, they have no problem inflicting pain and horror on other people but they never sign up to die.
ROWLANDS: Chris Pixley, how do you defend a case like this?
PIXLEY: One of the real questions right now is who is going to defend it? To the extent that there's a federal component and a state component here, I will be interested to see if there is going to be more than one attorney. He could have counsel from the federal public defenders' office as well as either the Fulton County Public Defenders' Office or the Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel. But this is -- David and Barry and I were talking about this during the break. The closest thing to a slam dunk to a prosecutor, given the number of witnesses that you're going to have, in the state case, in particularly, those who are in the Fulton County Courthouse or around it during this crime.
And the nature of the crime and I don't think that the case is going to get better for him. Now that we're hearing that Brian Nichols is actually talking to the police. You really have to ask yourself, is this going to be akin to the Lee Boyd Malvo investigation where the first thing he does before counsel is appointed to him is to sit down with the investigators and have a very frank conversation, a very calm conversation about what he did. I think that would be the icing on the cake, but of course, it's not necessary at this point.
There is not a good way to defend this case and I don't expect the defense to be successful.
ROWLANDS: All right. Brian Nichols expected to make his first court appearance not tomorrow as I said early, Monday, obviously, today being Saturday. Gary Tuchman, CNN correspondent covering this has to run. Thank you, Gary, for joining us. We'll be back with more on LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
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JACK TAYLOR, FRIEND OF DAVID WILHELM: I've known him for probably 10 years and when I got the news today I couldn't believe. It's just not the same David I knew. There is no way. It just can't be him. I just -- he was such a good person. He had such a big heart. He was such a nice guy. And I can't believe that fate would have it that this guy would come into his house and that's just not right. I don't -- I can't really talk anymore.
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ROWLANDS: Barry Hazen was Brian Nichols' defense attorney up until Thursday and still technically is on a rape case that was ongoing. There were reports, Barry, that there were some telephone threats on Friday afternoon from somebody claiming it to be Nichols saying they killed the prosecutor in the rape case that you were involved in. Do you know anything about that?
HAZEN: I heard that in the media but I have no firsthand knowledge of that at all.
ROWLANDS: OK. You were not informed of that. Chris Pixley, we're talking about security in different courtrooms. You work in this courtroom but you also work on courtrooms around the country from time to time. Is the Fulton County Courthouse as secure as most courthouses in this country?
HAZEN: Yeah. I've been admitted pro hoc in 22 states and in a lot of federal courthouses where you've got federal marshals doing the jobs that sheriffs do here, and I've got to tell you, my experience in the Fulton County Courthouse, I have to be there Monday morning to Cynthia Wright's (ph) courtroom bright and early and there certainly is a distinct difference to the look and feel to the security of the old building versus the new building, but in general, it is a very secure building. I have never, quite honestly, never been concerned for my safety.
Now I think that we do come a bit desensitized to it when we are in and out of different courthouses on a regular basis but the thing you've got to remember, it's not one of these little southern domed courthouses that was built hundreds of years ago. It's a very modern facility with a lot of security obviously at the ingress and egress points, so in general you do feel safe and unfortunately I think this is an aberration.
ROWLANDS: L. David Wolfe, do you think it's safe to say that courthouses around this country come Monday morning are going to reevaluate their procedures as to transportation with inmates and security in general? Is this a wakeup call, possibly?
WOLFE: Certainly the state courthouses will. I think that all of the people that do federal work know that when a prisoner is brought up into a courtroom in federal court, they're escorted by a couple of different marshals. There are marshals sitting within two feet of them behind them. They won't let people sit in the first row of the benches right behind the defendants.
So I think that the state courts are going to have to take a tip from the federal court procedures and do that. It's interesting, however, is that Fulton County's courthouse is very secure. They don't let law enforcement officers bring their weapons in, so even if there had been law enforcement officers in the building that could have tried to help, they would have been outgunned by this fellow running through the courthouse trying to make his way to what he believed to be freedom.
ROWLANDS: All right. Brian Nichols in federal custody tonight in Atlanta, Georgia. He is expected to make his first court appearance as early as Monday. He is facing potential murder charges for the deaths of Judge Rowland Barnes, Julie Brandau, court reporter, Sgt. Hoyt Teasley and David Wilhelm, a customs agent.
That's it for tonight. Thanks to all of our guests, Brian Nichols' family members Regina Dow and Reginald Small. Also Brian Nichols' defense attorney Barry Hazen, Don O'Briant, Brian Nichols alleged carjack victim, defense attorneys L. David Wolfe and Chris Pixley.
Thanks also to CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman and former FBI profiler, Candice DeLong. Thank you for watching and thanks to Larry King for letting me sit in here again tonight. CNN's SATURDAY WITH CAROL LIN is next.
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