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Warning Signs Missed in Atlanta Killing Spree? Inside the Mind of Brian Nichols

Aired March 15, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
Tonight, the Atlanta courthouse killing spree. Were there warning signs of the horrific violence to come?


ZAHN (voice-over): He calls himself a soldier on a mission. And he says he wanted revenge. But what made him snap?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure he made a lot of folks on the jury nervous.


ZAHN: What sent this prisoner on a violent rampage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was definitely desperate to tell us his version of the story.

ZAHN: Tonight, inside the mind of Brian Nichols.


ZAHN: In Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse today, there was a memorial service for the three people killed there Friday morning. Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Deputy Sergeant Hoyt Teasley.

A couple of hours before that, the suspect, Brian Nichols, appeared in front of another judge in the Fulton County jail. A prosecutor said the state will soon file murder charges against him. For now, Nichols is being held on the earlier rape charges.

Here's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back in the very building where the murderous rampage began, suspect Brian Nichols showed no emotion and gave no insight into his state of mind.

But law enforcement sources confirmed to CNN that, after his capture, Nichols told investigators that he viewed himself as a soldier and that the murder of Judge Rowland Barnes was not personal. Sources say Nichols believed he was lashing out at a racially biased justice system that he called systematic slavery, comments similar to those Ashley Smith say he made while holding her captive Saturday morning.

ASHLEY SMITH, FORMER HOSTAGE: He came into my apartment telling me that he was a soldier and that people -- that his people needed him for a job to do, and he was doing it.

MATTINGLY: "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" quoted an unnamed source who said Nichols' anger had been growing in jail while he awaited retrial or charges of raping and kidnapping his former girlfriend.

(on camera): So, at the end of testimony, he was probably feeling pretty good about his chances about becoming a free man?

JACK LILES, JURY FOREMAN: I think he probably had to be.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Jury foreman Jack Liles says that first trial deadlocked 8-4 in his favor in Nichols's favor. But when that second trial started, even his own attorney said it was not going as well for Nichols.

(on camera): What kind of disappointment do you think it was for him after having watched him in the first trial?

LILES: Yes, it would be for me to speculate. I imagine he was a little confident and possibly cocky after the first trial. Now, but it's hard to speculate. He's only one of two people who knows whether he's guilty of that rape incident or not.

MATTINGLY: In all, Nichols spent more than five months in jail waiting for his first trial to begin, not an unusual wait according to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. During that time, Nichols would have had plenty of time to notice the racial makeup of the inmates at the jail. CNN's law enforcement sources say Nichols acknowledged in his statement to authorities how many of his fellow inmates were also black.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Department did not respond to requests for information about the racial makeup of prisoners in the jail. Nichols' statement that he was doing a job for his people, however, while it might sound like the beginnings of a defense, may not hold much credibility, according to Atlanta criminologist Robert Friedman.

ROBERT FRIEDMAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I would treat his statement in that regard, that he needed to provide some sort of justification to neutralize the guilt and to justify his act, at least in his mind. Whether anybody else would buy it or not I think is irrelevant.

MATTINGLY: Fulton County district attorney Paul Howard told CNN Nichols appeared to be someone proud of what he had done and did not show remorse.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: As David Mattingly just reported, Brian Nichols' first rape trial ended in a hung jury.

Joining me from Atlanta, the foreman of that jury, Jack Liles.

Good of you to join us, sir. Welcome.

LILES: Good evening, Paula.

ZAHN: So, when you heard about the shooting rampage in Atlanta, was there any doubt in your mind Brian Nichols was responsible for it?

LILES: No. Just, I kind of heard it secondhand from some folks who had seen TV and media reports at that point.

But once I heard the story and the background of who he was and his circumstances were explained, it was pretty shocking to hear.

ZAHN: So you were surprised?

LILES: Absolutely, yes, yes.

ZAHN: Well, what did you see in his nature in the courtroom that might have made you think he could be capable of that kind of violence, or did you at all?

LILES: No, we didn't. We really didn't. He was composed. He was mature. He was well-disciplined. He kept his cool, even when some of the testimony and the cross-examinations were obviously rather tense.

So, we saw absolutely no signs -- or I'll speak for myself . I saw absolutely no signs that Brian Nichols was capable of what eventually apparently came about.

ZAHN: Because, Jack, there were other jurors who described feeling uneasy during some of that uncomfortable testimony, where they thought he was boring into them with his eyes. You never experienced that?

LILES: No. I mean, we all experienced the little bit of discomfort, I guess is a good word, when he initially took the stand and his tactic was to look over directly at us as jurors and tell these rather long-winded versions of his side of the story. He was essentially kind of ignoring his defense attorney's questions and very eager to explain his versions of several of the different stories that had taken place throughout the course of the trial to that point.

So, having the defendant look at you in the eyes from six or eight or 10 feet away probably unnerved a few people and maybe kept a few people unnerved throughout his testimony. I began to -- I was comfortable with it after a few minutes and just sort of matched his gaze, and said, OK, guy, if you have got a story to tell, tell it to us and -- because we're all ears at this point.

ZAHN: You ended up with a hung jury. Why didn't the jury convict Brian Nichols on the rape charges?

LILES: There absolutely was not enough physical evidence to either support the alleged victim's story and her sequence of events that took place and her version of the story or to discredit Brian's story and his version and his sequence of events.

The prosecution just didn't have quite the supporting evidence that was -- that really tied it all together and made her story 100 percent make sense to us. And they didn't have the strong enough cross of Brian, when he took the stand in his own defense, to completely discredit his version. So, as jurors, we were left to believe either it's possible he's innocent, or the district attorney's office and the work into this case was so completely incompetent, it was almost beyond comprehension.

But, either way, we didn't have picture that led us to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Brian Nichols had committed the rape and the other charges that he was charged with.

ZAHN: But, in spite of what you're saying, I can imagine, as someone who has seen their community decimated by this, that there have had to have been some sleepless nights, where you just wondered, if you had had enough evidence there to convict him, how things might be different tonight.

LILES: Absolutely.

If this trial had gone stronger in one direction or another, whether stronger on the defense side or a stronger case from the prosecution, it's entirely people that we'd go into the jury room for a couple of hours, come out, either convict or acquit Brian Nichols and this whole thing flushes out a lot differently.

But that's not how it happened. We didn't get the case to make a full decision, and so a second trial started and then we know what happened from there.

ZAHN: Jack Liles, thank you for your time tonight. We really appreciate it.

LILES: Thank you.

ZAHN: My next guest grew up in Baltimore with Brian Nichols. They were so close, he describes Nichols as his little brother.

Jay Henry joins me from Atlanta for this exclusive interview.

Welcome, Jay.

Jay, I don't know how familiar you are with what law enforcement is telling us tonight, but they maintain that Brian Nichols gave some incriminating statements about his involvement in this murder spree. What is your reaction to what has happened here?

JAY HENRY, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF BRIAN NICHOLS: Well, first, I'm extremely saddened and the community is extremely saddened about what has taken place, the lives that have been lost, the Nichols family, our neighborhood, who we consider one of the last American neighborhoods whose mothers and fathers are still together, who attend church, who have had really great parents.

And so I'm not as familiar with the incriminating statements that Brian may have made. But it's somewhat overwhelming for the community, myself, friends that are close to the situation, and as well as probably past jurors that's here in the studio with me.

ZAHN: He, apparently, according to law enforcement, described himself as a soldier on a mission. Did you ever see any violent tendencies in him?


All of this is extremely surprising, because not once did we see any violence from Brian. We were all athletic kids. We all played sports in school. We all attended the same schools and hung out in the neighborhood. And not once -- in fact, I believe that myself, his older brother, Mark (ph), and Kevin and Charles, those guys around the neighborhood, who we were all -- we, in a sense, used to tease him because he was probably the one that defended everybody within the neighborhood, especially some of the smaller kids, and actually was really sensitive about defending those individuals.

So, it all comes as a surprising shock us to, as it relates to what happened on Friday.

ZAHN: I'm also curious what your reaction is to something else police say that Brian Nichols said shortly after his arrest, that he was very angry about a criminal justice system he thought was stacked against African-Americans.

HENRY: Well, actually, there have been instances, I guess, in all cases. And I don't want to particularly concentrate on it being African-American or white or any other race. I believe that the justice system in some cases has failed. It has caused lives in a lot of cases.

ZAHN: Is that something Brian ever talked to you about?

HENRY: No. Brian never discussed that with me.

And it's just as far as my opinion is concerned. I don't necessarily think -- I think, in some cases, like the juror mentioned, in either case, if there is an acquittal, if there is, for some reason, a prosecution, then I think, in some ways, that would have probably helped in certain situations. Do I believe that the justice system in some ways has failed and has hurt some people? Yes, I do.

But I really don't have an opinion one way or another. I don't have enough facts to dispute what transpired.

ZAHN: Let's come back to Brian for a moment. If it ends up being that he is charged with all four of these murders, what do you think happened to him? Why did he snap? HENRY: Again, we don't know. We've all been sitting at home as families trying to find out what really happened. And we're just so saddened by the loss of life. We think it's senseless.

All of us -- pretty much all of us in that neighborhood came from Christian homes, so the loss of life is devastating to us all. As it stands right now, we really are kind of like really saddened by it. It has destroyed families. It has hurt, in a sense, the community. In some ways, it has even brought us closer together. I've talked to people that I haven't talked to in years.


HENRY: And so what we want to do is kind of support, you know, support those who have -- again, who have lost life and support the Nichols family during this time.

ZAHN: But, Jay -- and I need a brief answer to this -- if he ends up being found guilty of these crimes, what is it that you would want to say to your friend?

HENRY: Well, if he's found guilty -- and, again, that's yet to be proven -- but if he is found guilty, there's a large -- one of the reasons that I believe that I pay so much respect to Ashley Smith is that I believe that everybody has the right to repent for their actions and the things that they have done. And so, one who is really against the capital punishment piece, I would hope that he would at least look at it and be able to be remorseful and, basically, you know, just to repent for those things that he has done and the families that he may have hurt.

ZAHN: Jay Henry, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this is a difficult time for you to reflect on that friendship.

HENRY: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate your joining us.

HENRY: No problem.

ZAHN: One thing that might have stopped Friday's murders at the courthouse is a smarter gun that, believe it or not, knows its owner.


DONALD SEBASTIAN, NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: It really makes the decision while you're pulling the trigger. There is no activation period here. While you grab the gun and you pull the trigger, that's when we're making the identity read.


ZAHN: Coming up, amazing high-tech weapons that could actually save lives, and lessons in security for every courthouse in the country.


ZAHN: Still to come, guns that could save lives because they actually know their owner's hand. And a little bit later on, the ultimate question in the Michael Jackson trial: How believable is the young accuser who keeps changing his story?

But, first, it's just about a quarter past the hour. Time to turn to Erica Hill at Headline News for the very latest.

Hi, Erica.


We begin tonight in Washington, where officials now say all tests for anthrax at Pentagon postal facilities have come back negative. And they expect similar results in additional testing. Three mail facilities were closed down after initial tests came back positive. All of them could open again, though, as early as tomorrow.

Police in Texas have impounded a Jaguar they believe was used in a drive-by shooting early this morning in Dallas near the campus of Southern Methodist University. Police say a man in the car stood up through the sunroof and opened fire on another car, killing three men.

Italian troops could begin leaving Iraq as soon as September. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he has begun discussions with U.S. and Iraqi officials about a partial withdrawal. Berlusconi faces widespread public opposition to Italy's presence in Iraq. And those sentiments further inflamed by the accidental shooting of an Italian secret agent by U.S. forces in Iraq.

President Bush is calling on Hezbollah to disarm and to become a part of Lebanon's political mainstream. In a news conference today with Jordan's King Abdullah, Mr. Bush said he was concerned with the Shiite Muslim group and its attempts to disrupt efforts to create peace in the Middle East. The president says he still considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, but does hope it will prove him wrong by laying down arms.

The president of Pakistan says his troops were close to capturing Osama bin Laden eight to 10 months ago, but now there's no sign of him. Senior Pakistani officials say they haven't received any information on bin Laden's whereabouts for months.

And that is the latest from the Headline News studio -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica.

Officials are now admitting in Atlanta there were some very serious problems with security at their courthouse. Still ahead, what needs to change.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Give me an idea how that camera is monitored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's monitored by a deputy that is behind a control tower some 20 feet from us.

FEYERICK: At all times?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When there are inmates in this room, yes.


ZAHN: Straight from an Atlanta suburb, safety lessons for every courthouse in the country.


ZAHN: Unfortunately, there are a lot of what-ifs to come out of the courthouse shooting in Atlanta. What if Brian Nichols had been guarded by more than one sheriff's deputy? What if police had realized earlier that the stolen green Honda never even left the parking garage?

And our Deborah Feyerick looks at another what-if. What if the guns used in the killings could only be fired by their owners?


FEYERICK (voice-over): This automatic being fired by officer Robert Ohala (ph) is no ordinary gun. It's a smart gun, or at least a prototype of one. When it's perfected, this weapon will allow only Officer Ohala to fire it, not a criminal and certainly not a child.

SEBASTIAN: It really makes the decision while you're pulling the trigger. There is no activation period here. While you grab the gun and you pull the trigger, that's when we're making the identity read.

FEYERICK: Donald Sebastian heads up research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Five years ago, state lawmakers asked him to find out if guns could be made safer and smarter.

MICHAEL RECCE, NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: And the first stage usually is something like this.

FEYERICK: Associate professor Michael Recce was tapped to find the answer. And though he didn't know a lot about guns, he did know a lot about human behavior.

RECCE: One of the things that I was struck by is how dynamic behavior, certain types of behavior are so repeatable, like the way you grab a pen or a golf club.

FEYERICK: The professor discovered the same was true of guns.

RECCE: We used police officers and students. We had them grab a plastic gun. And we look at where their hand went. And we saw that, repeatably, their hands were always going to the same place.

FEYERICK: So, the professor and his team of graduate students placed tiny sensors in this handgrip.

RECCE: As the person grabs the gun, their fingers will touch some of these grips, some of these sensors and their pressure measurements will then -- will be measured over time.

FEYERICK: Measured and used as a key to unlock a gun in a tenth of a second, even by a novice.

(on camera): I had more control over the gun.


FEYERICK: Not that I'm used to holding the gun, but it feels the same. Each time I fired it, it feels exactly the same.

(voice-over): Not everyone is a fan of the new technology. Chris Cox lobbies for the National Rifle Association.

CHRIS COX, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: This high-tech is high- risk. It's unsafe. It's unproven, and it's unreliable. And a less reliable gun is a dumber gun.

FEYERICK: In truth, the so-called smart gun is at least two years from being ready. Inventors point out even ordinary guns misfire.

SEBASTIAN: The gun itself it's not foolproof. The electronics won't be foolproof. But we can ensure that we've taken the technology to the level required, that it actually is better than current reliability of a mechanical gun.

FEYERICK: In the future, a single gun can be programmed so that many shooters can use it.

(on camera): You're telling me that you could actually input the hand sensors of 100 people and the gun would be able to be activated by 100 people, as long as they're authorized users?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. How many numbers can you have in your cell phone? And it's the same principle, because that same set of chip sets for -- that would be the processors in your cell phone are what we're looking at here.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Under New Jersey law, police officers would not have to use the new guns, which would run about $50 higher than those now on the market.

Paramus Police Chief Fred Corrubia says he's excited by the smart gun's potential.

FRED CORRUBIA, PARAMUS POLICE CHIEF: It would actually have to used by the working officer. You would have to be able to shoot it left-handed, right-handed and from various positions which we might encounter in an actual street scene. I want to make sure the gun never goes to the point that it fails for us.


ZAHN: That was Deborah Feyerick.

Atlanta Police are trying to find out just how Brian Nichols simply walked away on Friday. They also want to know why the beating of a deputy in an area with security cameras went unnoticed and how a silent alarm in the courtroom where Judge Barnes was shot and killed went unanswered for 10 minutes.

Our Randi Kaye goes behind the headlines to another Atlanta-area courthouse where the security is very different.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may be seated.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Dekalb County Courthouse, just seven miles from Friday's courthouse shooting, security is on everyone'S mind. But it's on Sheriff Thomas Brown's shoulders.

THOMAS BROWN, DEKALB COUNTY SHERIFF: That's my No. 1 priority. If I keep that deputy safe, then I have got a safe judge and I got a safe attorney and I got a safe general public coming in and out of this courthouse.

KAYE: Prisoners are unshackled immediately after arriving here from jail. They remain that way in the holding area until it's time to take the elevator to court.

BROWN: They're brought out here and they're unshackled. And then they're placed in one of these holding cells.

KAYE: While in the holding area, Dekalb County deputies do not carry weapons.

(on camera): Is there a reason why, once they're in here heading to the holding cells, why those deputies are all unarmed?

BROWN: Well, there's no reason to have a weapon, No. 1. and we've already searched them and we know they don't have a weapon. And so we obviously want to remove the possibility of a confrontation.

KAYE (voice-over): We witnessed a lone deputy shackling a large group of prisoners. His holster was empty. Armed deputies watch from right outside the holding cell. Distance between inmates and weapons is the rule here.

Deputies also work in groups. We saw four of them escort five prisoners. And, in one courtroom, we counted five deputies.

BROWN: Someone is always going to test the system. But the percentage of a successful escape is minimized if you have enough people there to do the job at hand. KAYE: Manpower combined with monitoring, a camera in the elevator, a camera in every holding cell.

(on camera): Give me an idea how that camera is monitored.

BROWN: It's monitored by a deputy that is behind a control tower some 20 feet from us.

KAYE: At all times?

BROWN: When there are inmate is in this room, yes.

KAYE: For Sheriff Brown, there are no hard-and-fast rules, no handbook that dictates guard-inmate ratio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock to your left. Go to the left.

KAYE: And no room for error.

BROWN: In light of recent events, everything is just so routine. And, sometimes, you get comfortable with that and you just have to reinforce it.


ZAHN: That's a system we can learn a lot of lessons from, Randi Kaye in Dekalb County, Georgia.

A footnote today. A panel of federal judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, called for increased protection at courthouses and also at judges' homes.

And by all accounts, Ashley Smith gets the credit for persuading Brian Nichols to finally surrendered, and today, she learned she will get $10,000 in reward money from the state of Georgia. More may come from other jurisdictions. She told reporters that while she was held hostage, she read to Nichols from the book "The Purpose Driven Life." Please join me tomorrow night for an hour-long special on that book and its author, Rick Warren. "The Purpose Driven Life," tomorrow at a 10:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

In a moment we turn to big news in the Michael Jackson trial. His accuser says the story he told on the witness stand is not the story he told other people. Should the jury believe him anyway? We need to warn you right now, the language you'll be hearing is not for young children. It is very graphic; it might make a number of you adults also quite uncomfortable. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

We need to warn you that the language in our next report is graphic, not suitable for children. It will make you uncomfortable, just as it made me uncomfortable, but there is no way to avoid it. The words happen to be part of the testimony in the Michael Jackson trial where there has been an important development.

Jackson's teenage accuser finished testifying today, leaving the jury to decide how much, if any, of his allegations about sexual abuse can be believed.


ZAHN (voice-over): It's a question of credibility. Michael Jackson denies any wrongdoing, but on the witness stand last week, the 15-year-old accuser told jurors that Jackson masturbated him twice.

The boy said it happened when they were together at the pop star's Neverland ranch in 2003. His testimony was detailed and graphic, quote, "He said that if men don't masturbate, that they can get to a level where they can -- might rape a girl or they might be like kind of unstable. So he was telling me guys have to masturbate."

The boy also told the jurors, quote, "I was under his covers and then that's when he put his hand in my pants and then he started masturbating me."

But on Monday, under cross-examination by Jackson's attorney, Thomas Mesereau, the boy admitted telling a different story to the dean of his middle school, not just once but twice, quoting again, "I told him Michael never did anything to me."

Today, during redirect examination, prosecutors gave Jackson's accuser a chance to explain the discrepancy. The boy says after he appeared in a 2003 documentary, holding hands with Jackson, he was teased by his classmates. Quote, "The kids were making fun of me. I didn't want anybody to think it really happened."


ZAHN: And at one point today, the boy said he was happy at Neverland but he adds he really doesn't like Jackson anymore, saying, quote, "I don't really think he's deserving of the respect I was giving him as the coolest guy in the world."

So, it leads us to this question tonight: do children and teenagers make believable witnesses in high-profile cases?

Defense attorney Mickey Sherman is here with some insights. Always good to see you.

What is a jury to make of these inconsistencies in this young man's testimony.

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me answer that question.

Children are great witnesses...

ZAHN: They can be.

SHERMAN: Absolutely. Generally they are, and especially in a sexual assault case. But they have to be -- they can make a few mistakes. They can get the times wrong and they can get some facts wrong, and you can certainly figure that, especially dealing with a cancer victim.

ZAHN: How many times can you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SHERMAN: Not a lot. Not as many as this alleged victim seems to have gotten wrong, especially things about -- well, Michael Jackson told him, I have to masturbate or I'm going to rape somebody. They found out that he said the same thing, or he said he said the same thing to his grandmother, somebody actually wrote that down. So did his grandmother say that or Michael Jackson say that? You've got real problems with the testimony that's more than just, I made a little mistake here and there.

ZAHN: So, how much damage do you think this has done to the prosecution's case? This kid after all is their star witness.

SHERMAN: He's not the star witness; he's the only witness. This is the case. You can have a lot of window dressing, you can have a lot of experts, and forensics, and shrinks, but the jury has to believe this kid.

At the end of his testimony, the defense attorney should be saying, oh my God, what are we going to do now? It should be slam- dunked, and then they're going to scratch and crawl to try and get even. From all the reports inside the courtroom -- and Paula, that's the most important, it's not what we think, it's what those folks inside the courtroom think, because they can see it. They seem to say at best, it's a draw, and that's not good for the prosecution.

ZAHN: So, what can the prosecution do, from this point on, to try to buttress this kid's credibility?

SHERMAN: Not a lot. All they can do is really try very hard to get that '93 victim in there, which I don't know they're going to do because I don't think this judge going to give them a free pass on that.

But they're going to have to try and show, well, maybe he did it because it looks like he did it before. That's really not fair evidence but that's what the prosecution is going to try and do. What they shouldn't do is thing about showing that Michael Jackson is broke or something. That's about as relevant whether or not Hellman's changes its recipe for mayonnaise.

ZAHN: Good one there, Mickey.

Final question for you, need a brief answer to this: how much coaching is allowed of witnesses when they're on your side?

SHERMAN: As much as you can do and as much as that will be effective. There are some witnesses who are just uncoachable, and has nothing to do with their demographic, whether they're uneducated, or a rich person. Sometimes the more educated and wealthier you are, the more difficult it is to coach.

ZAHN: So, did you hear coaching in this one, yes or no?

SHERMAN: Yes, I did.

ZAHN: But you don't think it worked?


ZAHN: All right. Mickey Sherman, thanks for dropping by.

SHERMAN: Always great to be here.

ZAHN: Always appreciate your insights.

Still ahead, Alaska's version of "March Madness:" these athletes have to keep going through rain, snow, sleet and hundreds of miles. We'll be back with their story.


ZAHN: And welcome back.

Coming up, the incredible four legged athletes in the Iditarod. Plus, Martha Stewart's latest fashion accessory is one she does not recommend. I think you'll understand why.

But it's just about quarter before the hour, time to check in once again with Erica Hill at Headline News.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS: Hi, again, Paula. We start here in Atlanta. The suspect in the courthouse shootings was denied bail in a hearing today in a jailhouse courtroom. Brian Nichols was shackled at the waist and ankles as he faced a judge. He is being held on prior charges, including rape. Prosecutors plan to charge him in four murders.

Tomorrow, Scott Peterson will learn if he'll be sentenced to death for killing his wife, Laci, and unborn son. That was the recommendation of the jury that convicted Peterson. The judge has the option of reducing the sentence, but he is expected to follow the jury's recommendation.

And Florida lawmakers are making a last minute push to block a court order allowing Terry Schiavo's husband to remove her feeding tube. Michael Schiavo says he'll remove the tube from his brain- damaged wife on Friday. The state legislator is considering a bill, though, that would keep doctors from removing food or water from anyone in a persistent vegetative state unless that person specifically approved such a move.

And those are the latest headlines. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. Appreciate it. Larry King is coming up at the top of the hour. Hi, Larry. Who's joining you tonight? LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, Paula. A good one tonight. Exclusive with Mark Nichols. He is Brian Nichols brother. This is his first appearance ever to discuss who is Brian Nichols, who is Mark's brother? What led him to where he is now? That's the top of the hour, 9 Eastern, exclusive with Mark Nichols, the brother of Brian Nichols -- Paula.

ZAHN: It will be appointment viewing for me tonight at 9. Thanks, Larry. See you then.

KING: Please do.

ZAHN: Coming up, building a bond of trust that can go the distance.


RACHAEL SCDORIS, IDITAROD MUSHER: I can just, you know, look at her a certain way or make a certain whistle. And she -- she just goes and does whatever it is I want her to do. I don't know how. She doesn't speak English.


ZAHN: The bond between dog and musher in Alaska's great race.

And speaking of things that bind, Martha Stewart is letting everyone know exactly what she thinks about the latest addition to her ankle. I don't think she likes it one bit.


ZAHN: Alaska's Iditarod dogsled race is heading into the homestretch today. Sixty-eight teams are still in the 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome, battling the Alaskan winter and rugged wilderness.

The leaders are about 120 miles from the finish line. And they wouldn't have made it this far if it weren't for some incredible athletes.


ZAHN (voice-over): They are the real competitors of the Iditarod, the four legged ones that cover 100 miles a day across some of Alaska's toughest, most brutal terrain. The race certainly takes a toll on humans. But in this marathon, it is the dogs that will ultimately win or lose.

TYRELL SEAVEY, IDITAROD MUSHER: A good dog has to have anything. There's far more to it than the strength and stamina. There's heart and the spirit of the dog.

ZAHN: Tyrell Seavey is only 20 years old but is already racing his second Iditarod. He and his team of huskies have spent a year of tough training getting ready for it. SEAVEY: It went the equivalent this winter on a dogsled from Anchorage, Alaska to Georgia, the driving distance. And this was this winter alone on a dogsled. That's enough time to bond with anything.

ZAHN: These sled racing dogs are especially bred Alaskan huskies. They're built run and to pull. But surprisingly, they're also known for their sweet dispositions, vital in keeping a team together through the harshest conditions.

SEAVEY: There's more things than I can ever list: wind, snow, rain, whatever you can run into, Moose. They're telling us we're going to get stomped this year.

ZAHN: The 16 dogs in a team will play different roles. Those up front are the lead dogs. They're the fearless take charge kind. The dogs behind them are called the swing dogs. They turn the sleds left and right.

To get through the nine-day to two-week race, these dogs eat an astounding 10,000 calories a day. Eight times as much, pound for pound, as a Tour de France cyclist.

SCDORIS: This is Angel. She's 4-years-old.

ZAHN: For first time Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris, who is legally blind, her dogs aren't just her muscle; they are her eyes. Rachael relies on her 7-year-old dog, Duchess, to lead the team.

SCDORIS: I can just, you know, look at her a certain way or make a certain whistle and she's -- she just goes and does whatever it is I want her to do. I don't know how. She doesn't speak English.

ZAHN: Out on the trail, Rachael makes sure her dogs stay healthy.

SCDORIS: Well, I do a lot out there whenever we stop and check their muscles, you know, do -- do a little range of motion, see how well they can stretch, see if anything bothers them. And I'll check their feet, you know, look between their toes for web splits.

ZAHN: Dog hair is a big part of the Iditarod.

DR. STUART NELSON, IDITAROD OFFICIAL VET: We have a very elaborate protocol for evaluating the dogs before they start the race.

ZAHN: Dr. Stuart Nelson is the Iditarod's official vet.

NELSON: It starts about actually 3 1/2 weeks before the race. Every dog has an EKG, blood work, a physical exam, must be current vaccinations, dewormed, all that sort of thing. So it's -- it's a very time consuming effort to get the dogs to the finish line.

ZAHN: The dogs wear booties to protect their feet from ice and rocks. Imagine changing shoes on 16 dogs everyday. That's 64 paws that need attention. SEAVEY: Just like any kind of athlete that's physical and on their feet. For the dogs, it's wrists and soldiers, you know, similar to a runner's knees, hips, ankles, that sort of thing. Getting a sprained wrist is not uncommon.

ZAHN: If dogs do get in trouble, they can be dropped off at checkpoints along the way, where there's special color-coded medical attention.

NELSON: Most dogs that are dropped would be considered a white dog. They're probably just tired. They don't really need anything special other than a little time and rest.

But we are prepared, if we have a critical dog, we categorize that as a red dog. Then they're flown to a commercial hub and once again, reevaluated by veterinarians.

ZAHN: Besides all the fans of dogsled racing, there are also critics, people who say the Iditarod amounts to cruelty. One dog has died in every recent Iditarod. Last year, Norwegian racer Shadow Bokken (ph) lost his lead when one of his dogs collapsed after a particularly grueling stretch of trail.

JO SULLIVAN, ASPCA: Any time an animal is at risk or participates in an event that costs their life, there is absolutely a concern.

ZAHN: Jo Sullivan is with the ASPCA. While she doesn't condemn the Iditarod, she does warn that proper care and observation of the animals is needed.

SULLIVAN: Just like any other athletic event, people can push themselves. In this case, animals are part of the tool they need to succeed and will push themselves. And in this case, their animals are part of the tool that they need to succeed. They'll push themselves, through competition, beyond what's normal and what's expected.

One mush team at a time needs to make sure that their animals are well taken care of, well loved, well cared for by a vet and that they're not pushed past their point of endurance.

ZAHN: Iditarod vet Stuart Nelson promises here in Alaska, that's happening.

NELSON: I wouldn't be here if I thought it was cruel thing. My goal is to learn as much as I can about these dogs, to educate mushers of ways to work the race and that we can continually up the level of care for the animals. And you know, if it was cruel, I wouldn't be here.

ZAHN: Not all the dogs or human competitors will make it to the end of the Iditarod trail. Many teams do drop out because of injury or just plain exhaustion. Those who end up crossing the finish line in Nome are truly champions, whether they have two legs or four.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Such beautiful animals. We should tell that you race organizers now have confirmed that one dog did die in the race this past weekend. Her name was Rita. She was in sled racer Paul Gephardt's team, which is running in seventh place right now.

And Rachael Scdoris, who you met a little bit earlier on, the blind musher that we have been following since the start of the race, is still in it. Sixty-seventh out of 68 teams, remaining an amazing achievement when you consider that she is legally blind.

Coming up, Jeanne Moos with the 21st Century version of the ball and chain.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you shave your leg here?

MUHAMED SACIRBEY, UNDER HOUSE ARREST: No. But I think this actually rubs so much that it...

MOOS: Takes the hair off.

M. SACIRBEY: ... takes the hair off. Yes.


ZAHN: So Martha Stewart has traded in her prison uniform for something even less comfortable. Don't go away.


ZAHN: Martha Stewart, unplugged. Well, sort of. She's wearing an electronic ankle bracelet these days, while under home detention. And she went online on Monday night to chat with fans about her new fashion accessory.

She described it as irritating, rigid, irritating and uncomfortable and said she wished it was removable. Martha also told her fans, "I hope you never have to wear one."

Well, just in case you do some day, Jeanne Moos has a look at life on the electronic leash.


MOOS (voice-over): Where once Martha's ankle was bare, now there's something like this there. And suddenly, everybody's wearing them.

TONY DANZA, TALK SHOW HOST: Hi, I'm Tony Danza. And I'm under house arrest because really, you know, if you're not under house arrest you're really nobody.

MOOS: Talk about getting attached to a story.

DEBORAH NORVILLE, MSNBC: I wanted to know what it's like to be a prisoner in your own home.

MOOS: Oh, for the good old days when an anklet was a piece of jewelry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a honey of an anklet you're wearing Mrs. Beavington (ph).

MOOS: And that's a honey of an ankle you're wearing, Mr. Sacirbey.

SACIRBEY: It's like a little striptease.

MOOS: Muhamed Sacirbey used to be Bosnia's U.N. ambassador. Now he's being investigated for misuse of Bosnian government funds, something he vehemently denies. Sacirbey is tethered to his Staten Island apartment by an ankle bracelet just like Martha's.

We call this "ankle cam."

SUSAN SACIRBEY, MUHAMED SACIRBEY'S WIFE: It's a little black box. I tell him not to let it be his scarlet letter.

MOOS: Sacirbey's wife is so glad to have him home from jail, she doesn't mind that he can only go as far as the trash chute. They have a nickname for the ankle bracelet.

M. SACIRBEY: Bling-bling.

MOOS: The bling-bling on his ankle transmits to this unit, attached to a special phone line. If he strays too far, the system alerts central monitoring.

You wear it to bed, you wear it in the shower.

(on camera) Did you shave your leg here?

M. SACIRBEY: No. But I think this actually rubs so much that it...

MOOS: Takes the hair off.

M. SACIRBEY: Takes the hair off, yes.

MOOS (voice-over): Martha has mentioned it makes exercising difficult. On the bright side, maybe you'll fall in love with the guy who services your ankle bracelet, like in the movie, "Cherish." On the not so bright side...

(on camera) Do you have to pay for this?

M. SACIRBEY: Yes. It's about $100 a month.

MOOS (voice-over): But at least for the guy in long pants, you practically have to crawl on all fours to notice it.

(on camera) In order to wear skirts? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you need to cover it. You need to cover it, or you're going to be marked.

MOOS (voice-over): So shoe designer Robert Degenia (ph) designed a line of shoes that would hide Martha's ankle bracelet. Remember her poncho look?

(on camera) This is a two-fer. This one, you cover the ankle bracelet and you reference back to the famous poncho.


MOOS (voice-over): Speaking of great outfits, some say Spider- Man was the inspiration for the ankle bracelet, that a judge in New Mexico suggested the idea after seeing a villain slap a tracking device on Spider-Man.

Think of the average bracelet as a modern day ball and chain. All it needs is the right shoe.

(on camera) What size is Martha?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is -- we're still getting updates on that, but I think she's a 9 1/2.

MOOS (voice-over): The new line of Martha inspired shoes is called Just Out, shoes you can break your ankle in but not your ankle bracelet.


ZAHN: Who knew? Martha's world, according to Jeanne Moos tonight.

That is it for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Tomorrow night, a powerful Catholic cardinal blasts the popular best-seller, "The Da Vinci Code" and criticizes Catholic book shops for even selling it.

Again, thanks for joining us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.


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