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Judge hears new defense motion to delay courthouse shooting trial
Brian Nichols, right, and his lawyer, Gary Parker, appear before Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller during a hearing in Atlanta, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006. Defense lawyers pleaded anew Wednesday for the judge to delay next month's murder trial of accused courthouse gunman Brian Nichols, saying they needed more time. - photo by Associated Press
    ATLANTA — Defense lawyers pleaded anew Wednesday for a judge to delay next month’s murder trial of accused courthouse gunman Brian Nichols, saying they simply will not be prepared to go forward by then.
    Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller previously denied the defense request for a trial delay. The defense is now asking the judge to reconsider.
    Defense lawyer Robert McGlasson complained during a hearing that more than 300 hours of recordings of Nichols’ telephone calls from jail have been dumped on the defense within the last few weeks. He said there’s no way the defense can be ready for the Jan. 11 trial as a result.
    There has been an ‘‘untold amount of discovery that has literally been dumped on the defense in the last 30 to 45 days,’’ McGlasson said. He added, ‘‘The only solution to this problem is to delay the trial.’’
    McGlasson reiterated that the defense is considering using a mental health defense at trial and it needs more time to review the tapes to make its determination.
    ‘‘Mental health defenses are being considered and explored,’’ McGlasson said. He added, ‘‘It’s impossible for us to be ready for trial.’’
    But Assistant District Attorney Christopher Quinn said prosecutors have released the tapes within the statutory time frame and there is no reason to delay the trial.
    ‘‘We are ready to go,’’ Quinn said.
    He also said prosecutors are not obligated to specify to the defense which recordings they may use at trial and which ones they won’t. The defense has asked Fuller to order prosecutors to do that.
    Fuller did not say how he will rule, but he indicated he has ‘‘serious concerns’’ about the issues raised during the hearing.
    ‘‘This seems to me to be a significant problem,’’ Fuller said. He added he will take the motion under advisement and rule as soon as possible.
    Fuller did rule on another motion Wednesday; He denied a defense request to declare the procedures the state uses to impose the death penalty unconstitutional.
    Nichols is charged in a 54-count indictment with murder, kidnapping, carjacking, escape and other offenses. He has pleaded not guilty.
    He is accused of grabbing a deputy’s gun at the downtown Fulton County Courthouse, where he was being retried on rape charges, and killing a judge, court reporter and a sheriff’s deputy on March 11, 2005. He’s also charged with killing a federal agent he encountered at a home a few miles from the courthouse that night.
    Police said Nichols also took a woman hostage in her suburban Atlanta apartment but surrendered the next day.
    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
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