Brian Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole in Georgia on December 13 after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict of death. Nichols had been found guilty of killing a judge, a court reporter, a police deputy, and a U.S. Customs agent during his escape from a courthouse hearing on other charges. The jury remained deadlocked in a 9-3 vote after four days of deliberations. A unanimous vote is required for a death sentence, just as it is for a guilty verdict. The jury did find the existence of 11 aggravating factors against Nichols.

“An awful lot of money has been spent on this case,” said Stephen Bright, an Atlanta lawyer and nationally renowned opponent of capital punishment. “And for no purpose, except to have a show trial at enormous expense that has damaged Georgia’s court system in many ways.” It was estimated that the state spent $3 million for the defense in this case. Prosecution costs would add to the taxpayers’ expense. “I don’t think Brian Nichols won,” said Christina Greenway, daughter of the court reporter Nichols murdered. “In his own words, it is not in his DNA to stay in prison. Now he can look forward to a life in prison.” The prosecutor had turned down Nichols’ offer a year ago to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
(S. Visser, J. Scott, “Nichols gets life without parole,” Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), December 13, 2008; also, B. Rankin, “THE NICHOLS CASE: Failure to win death penalty resonates,” AJC, Dec. 14, 2008). See Arbritrariness and Costs.