Saturday, March 12, 2005

Brian Nichols Arrested: What's Next?

CNN is reporting that killer Brian Nichols (age 33) has been caught. He was taken outside an apartment in suburban Atlanta. For those that might have been on another planet, Nichols escaped from custody at the Atlanta courthouse yesterday, killed 4 people and has been on the loose ever since.

Some 22 hours after his escape, Nichols was brought to bay in an suburban North Atlanta apartment about 9:50 AM: (Eastern)

Police responded to a hostage situation at Bridgewater Apartments along W. Liddel Road. Police locked down the apartment complex in north Atlanta.

Officers searched vehicles at gun point as they left the complex and did not allow any vehicles into the complex.

At 11:30 a.m., a SWAT team moved in on one of the apartments. A short time later, officers announced they had captured Nichols, 33, who was accused of shooting four people and killing three.

Now that Nichols has been taken alive, what will happen next? Let's take a look at some likely scenarios:

  1. (Arrest Date + 5 days) Brian Nichols is charged with the four killings.
  2. (Arrest Date + 1 year) As the repeatedly-postponed trial date approaches, Nichols' taxpayer-compensated defense team wins a "change of venue" motion to get the trial moved to a different part of the State of Georgia. This will be done because the Defense team will be successful in its efforts to prove that Nichols can't "get a fair trial" in the city in which he murdered four human beings. The trial is moved to Savannah.
  3. (Arrest Date + 18 months) The Nichols trial is postponed yet again because it has been discovered that the 500+ "jury pool" doesn't have a sufficient percentage of Alaska Natives included to be representative of the trial's 3rd venue, Thomasville, Georgia. For that reason, the "pool" is tainted, and a complete set of new potential jurors must be recruited.
  4. (Arrest Date + 20 months) The search for a jury of individuals that are considered to be sufficiently naive and/or stupid by both sides is underway.
  5. (Arrest Date + 21 months) As the sequestered jury of 12 (and 8 alternates) begins to listen to testimony from the just-begun trial, FOX News commentators notice that juror number 7 dozes off to sleep from time-to-time. This will be a problem later. Not to be out-done, CNN speculates that juror number 2 (male) is flirting with Nichols from the jury box.
  6. (Arrest Date + 29 months) After 9 days of deliberations, the jury informs the judge that it is deadlocked because of two jurors who cannot agree with the other 10 on a verdict. A new trial is subsequently ordered.
  7. (Arrest Date + 3 years, 10 months) In his second trial, the jury returns a verdict of guilty. Surprisingly, this jury recommends that Nichols be sentenced to death. The jury is subsequently sent home.
  8. (Arrest Date + 4 years, 2 months) The judge sentences Nichols to death by lethal injection.
  9. (Arrest Date + 8 years, 2 months) In his latest appeal, Nichols asserts that his trial was unfair because the final jury pool didn't have a sufficient number of Hispanics included in order to be representative of the Thomasville community. (Refer to change-of-venue petition above.)
  10. (Arrest Date + 8 years, 4 months) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal) in San Francisco agrees with Nichols and orders a new trial. The state of Georgia appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  11. (Arrest Date + 8 years, 10 months) The United States Supreme Court upholds the original verdict.
  12. (Arrest Date + 11 years, 2 months) In his latest round of appeals, Nichols insists that his trial was unfair because the judge's instructions to the jury in the sentencing phase of the trial did not inform jurors that possible sentences included "life with the possibility of parole after 15 years." (At this point, legal expenses have cost Georgia taxpayers well over $1 million.)
  13. (Arrest Date + 11 years, 7 months) The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Illinois, agrees with Nichol's attorneys, and orders a new sentencing hearing.
  14. (Arrest Date + 13 years, 2 months) The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the State of Georgia's appeal of the Seventh Circuit's ruling.
  15. (Arrest Date + 13 years, 9 months) Even though it is concerned that the judge's jury instructions were "somewhat flawed," The Supreme Court upholds the original sentence of death.
  16. (Arrest Date + 16 years, 3 months) In his newest appeal effort, Nichols states that Capital Punishment is "cruel and unusual punishment" (and therefore unconstitutional) due to the overly long period of time that has elapsed between sentencing and the imposition of punishment.
  17. (Arrest Date + 17 years, 1 month) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Nichol's death sentence for the reason given above. The State of Georgia appeals (for the third time) to the United States Supreme Court.
  18. (Arrest Date + 17 years, 4 months) The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.
  19. (Arrest Date + 17 years, 6 months) Brian Nichols dies (at age 51) due to complications from a stroke that he suffered earlier that week.

Afterward: At the time of his death, it was rumored that Brian Nichols was considering dropping his appeals in an effort to be declared legally insane and thereby initiate yet another round of endless appeals.

The United States Supreme Court has declared that insane people cannot be executed if they show symptoms of insanity at the time of their scheduled execution.

What is urgently needed is a thorough overhaul of the appeals process that allows these malefactors to "play" the system in order to obtain lengthy delays of as much as 20 years between the imposition of a sentence of death and the execution of the penalty.

Criminals that have been sentenced to "death" are now-a-days more likely to die from the complications of old age than they are from their date with an executioner.

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