ATLANTA — A judge on Saturday sentenced the man who killed four people in a brazen courthouse escape to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole after a deadlocked jury failed to return a death sentence.
Brian Nichols, 37, was found guilty last month of murder and dozens of other counts for the March 2005 rampage that started in a downtown courthouse, spoke for the first time in court on Saturday.
"I just wanted to say that I know that the things I've done caused a lot of pain and I'm sorry," Nichols said. "And I just wanted to say that I will not bring dishonor to the decision to spare my life. That's it."
Nichols will likely die in prison after Superior Court Judge James Bodiford handed down the maximum sentence on each charge, to run consecutively. "If there was any more I could give you, I would," the judge said.
Nichols was being escorted to his trial for rape when he beat a deputy guarding him and stole her gun. He burst into the courtroom and shot and killed Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Deputy Hoyt Teasley.
He fled downtown Atlanta and managed to evade hundreds of police officers searching for him overnight. In Atlanta's posh Buckhead neighborhood, he shot and killed federal agent David Wilhelm at a house the agent was renovating.
Bodiford offered advice for the prison guards who will handle Nichols: "Do not trust Mr. Nichols ever again. Ever again. Because he cannot be trusted."
In a tearful post-trial press conference, the families of the victims thanked the prosecutors for going through with the trial, as painful as it was.
"I believe Brian Nichols did not win. In his own words, he said it's not his DNA to stay in jail," said Brandau's daughter, Christina Greenway. "Which is what he has to look forward to the rest of his life. I'm not disappointed and I have no regrets."