Friday, March 18, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Breakfast at Zero Hour

WSB-Radio reported this evening that the video camera feed into the control room at the FUCO Courthouse was not being monitored during the critical time that Nichols overpowered Deputy Hall; because, the officers in that room had been asked by their supervisor to GO GET HIM SOME BREAKFAST. Remember, I said it was indifference and complacency that was a large factor in this security breach. Even I didn't realize it was that bad. Incredible.




This would be a laughable paraphrase, if it wasn't such a tragic situation:

While acknowledging missteps in the pursuit of Nichols, Pennington said during a lengthy interview with The Associated Press following the news conference that Nichols was able to elude capture for so long because of his inconspicuous behavior(emph mine).

And what about this mea culpa from the Mayor of Atlanta:

"We have nothing to hide," Franklin said. "We come to you as a city ... recognizing that there are opportunities for improvements."

Translation... Boo-hoo-hoo. We're just a major metropolitan city that doesn't have its act together, cut us some slack. UMMM, I don't think so...


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Misdirection: Police One Way Suspect the Other

Link The AJC, reporting on a presser with Atlanta Police Chief Pennington, reports that the police acknowledge that mistakes were made. Indeed, police converged on the courthouse, as the killer had already fled the area. They still give no reason why the garage where the Honda was later found was not searched. They do claim that MARTA was notified, but given the extra MARTA security for the tournament, it seems that notification was worthless. This guy was only wearing a jacket and no shirt, so why didn't he attract any attention? MARTA claims they were searching for a Honda, too, but MARTA could not have searched for any car except in parking lots and the stations downtown essentially have no lots that are patrolled by MARTA. So what were they searching for - a car.. on the rail tracks? The story put forth by officials so far seems to be a semi-plausible attempt to paper over the most obvious problems in the search, but the explanations only raise more questions.

Officials say he was wandering the streets around the mall, and that they don't believe that he entered the mall. So why was he not noticed by any pedestrians on busy Buckhead streets, who by then probably knew of the search from media reports, or by police on patrol for that matter? The red herring of the green Honda apparently shut the eyes of patrol officers to sidewalks. Lenox Mall has security cameras, so they should be able to make a definitive statement that he did not enter the mall. They gave themselves some wiggle room.

Every explanation put forth by authorities so far seems to try to protect the integrity of establishments that are vital to Atlanta's business and tourist industries. The responses seem to be geared toward trying to placate citizens and tourists that are coming to Atlanta that using MARTA or visiting our malls is safe. Do you think the people who traveled MARTA that morning feel better? Or the shoppers at the mall?

I repeat, I don't go downtown or even to Buckhead unless I absolutely have to...I have that belief, and many people I know do too, and that belief makes the movers and shakers worry.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Article on Corruption

Backcountry Conservative sends this article from the AP on the corruption in Atlanta's Sheriffs department.

A county jail so dangerous it was taken over by the federal
government. A sheriff who diverted millions in public money into
money-losing investments. An escape by an inmate while a rapper was
making a music video behind bars.

And now, a horror far worse than even the strongest critics of
Atlanta's Fulton County Sheriff's Department could have predicted: A
man being tried in a rape case is accused of overpowering a courthouse
deputy, taking her gun and going on a rampage, leaving four people
dead, including a judge.

The bloodbath last week has law enforcement agencies across the nation
tightening courthouse security and experts talking about the
complexities of securing courtrooms. This kind of violence could
happen elsewhere, too, the thinking seems to go.

But people who follow or work with the Fulton County Sheriff's
Department, which runs the jail and is responsible for courthouse
security, suggest there is a reason it happened here and not someplace
else. They talk about a department prone to security lapses and long
bloated with poorly trained deputies.

"If it could happen anywhere, why hasn't it?" said J. Danny Stephens,
a longtime Atlanta homicide detective who made an unsuccessful bid for
sheriff last year. "The sheriff's department has been in trouble for
umpteen years. This is a story of total, total mismanagement."

Sheriff Myron Freeman clearly has been staggered by the courthouse
violence. At news conferences, he repeatedly mentioned that he has
been on the job just two months. He could not answer questions about
how courthouse deputies are trained or why a 51-year-old, 5-foot
female deputy was left alone with Brian Nichols, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound
former college linebacker.

The county jail was monitored by the federal government for six months
last year because of security lapses and squalid conditions.

Among the troubles: a series of escapes or accidental releases,
overcrowding, inadequate health care and plumbing so bad that sewage
sometimes gushed on the first floor.

Last summer, rapper Clifford Harris, known as T.I., was allowed to use
a maximum-security cell, guards and inmates as props and extras for a
music video. That same night, a female inmate dressed in medical
scrubs escaped.

The problems may have extended beyond the jail. Security cameras
recorded Nichols' alleged attack on the deputy guarding him, but
apparently no one was watching the screens before the judge and a
court reporter were killed, according to The Atlanta

The funeral was held Thursday for Judge Rowland Barnes, who was
remembered as a fair, fun-loving jurist. Earlier Thursday, services
were held in Salisbury, N.C., for Immigration and Customs Agent David
Wilhelm, who was found shot to death in his Atlanta home Saturday.
Authorities believe Nichols killed Wilhelm.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Police on Scene One Hour After Shootings

Link ATLANTA (AP) -- Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has acknowledged that city police did not take control of the search for courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols until about an hour after the start of last week's crime spree.

The rampage left a judge and three others dead. But law enforcement officials have not made it clear which agency was in charge of the search for Nichols, who surrendered the next day after a woman he allegedly took hostage notified authorities.

"(The Atlanta Police Department) assumed the lead role in the investigation upon arrival at the Fulton County Courthouse at approximately 10:00 a.m.," the mayor's office said in a statement issued Wednesday night.

But the shootings began around 9 a.m. Friday. The first carjacking Nichols is accused of committing happened at 9:05 a.m., police said.

The admission comes as law enforcement authorities face criticism that better security and more thorough police work could have saved lives on that bloody Friday.

The carjacked vehicle reported to be Nichols' getaway car after the shootings was found more than 13 hours after the shootings -- in the same parking garage from which police thought it had been carjacked. Nichols apparently escaped unnoticed on a commuter train to another part of the city.

Although police allowed Nichols to leave the downtown area unnoticed, city officials have withheld criticism.

Mayor Franklin has said it is too soon to begin assessing the police department's performance in what has been considered the largest manhunt in state history.

"At this point, there is nothing more important than ensuring that we develop a solid, factually accurate case," Franklin's statement said. "It is imperative that we provide the district attorney the information needed to effectively and fairly prosecute the case. In terms of the actions of law enforcement agencies, Chief (Richard) Pennington and his team will focus their attention on who did what, when they did it, how they did it, and why they did it at the appropriate time."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Bomb Threat at Courthouse

Link Police have determined that a bomb threat reported for the Fulton County Courthouse Thursday afternoon is a hoax. The threat led police to start shutting down nearby streets.

Officers also brought bomb-sniffing dogs into the building. There were no reports of any evacuations or other related actions.

The courthouse had closed at 1 p.m. so that the 400 workers there could attend services for Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

The bomb threat came just six days after a defendant opened fire, killing Barnes and two others at the courthouse.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Ann Coulter Cuts through the PC Nonsense

Link This article by the always outspoken and thoughtprovoking Ann Coulter sites several excellent research articles into the harm that PC policies that put us all at risk.


Cleft Palate Abortion - Slightly Off Topic - But Hits Close to Home

Link This is where we are headed. My daughter was born with a cleft palate. No Biggie. Easy fix. No disabilities.


UPDATE: Please read the linked article about the state of abortion law in the UK and consider where it fits in the current and ongoing debates here.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Recall Petition

Link There is a recall petition circulating at the Southeastern Legal Foundations website. They have been calling for a recall since BEFORE last week's carnage at the courthouse.

All eligible readers are encouraged to sign...

Of course, that is only half of the problem. Voters are also encouraged by this blogger to vote a competent person without any connections to the Jackson-Campbell-Franklin political machine into office.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Pennington Admits Mistakes

Link 11 Alive Reports --

Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington admitted costly mistakes were made in the manhunt for accused murderer Brian Nichols during an interview with 11Alive News Wednesday.

Nichols is suspected in the murders of a state judge, a court reporter, a deputy, and a federal agent. He is also suspected in at least three series(? - mine) and five carjackings.

One of the first missed opportunities in capturing Nichols Pennington addressed was in regards to the green Honda Accord that authorities believed the suspect was traveling in for much of Friday.

The Accord was found late Friday night in the same parking garage where it was reportedly carjacked. Authorities believe Nichols abandoned the vehicle soon after he allegedly carjacked it Friday morning and left the downtown area by MARTA.

Law enforcement officials have been criticized for not searching the garage thoroughly after receiving reports of the carjacking.

“We had all indications to believe he had exited the garage in the vehicle, and so the police department should have -- and we can say that now -- we should have gone throughout that entire garage from the bottom to the top even though we didn't have indication that the car was still there,” Pennington said.

Pennington believes Nichols was trying to fool authorities into thinking he would exit the city in a car and he says Nichols’ plan worked.

"A lot of people say if you found the car, [we] could have caught him sooner. We don't know that. He eluded us. I think a lot of this was contrived by him,” Pennington said.

Pennington says he plans to investigate what went wrong within the Atlanta Police Department and says he hopes to help address security measures at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Timeline of Carjackings

CBS46, Atlanta's CBS affiliate has information on the timeline of Nichols carjackings up until he walks out of the Centennial Park garage and into nothingnessm, until he assaults a couple at a complex near Lenox Mall at 10:40.

1. 9:05 He carjacks a Mazda Tribute in the garage across from the courthouse.

2. 9:07 He enters a garage where the wrecker driver sees him. Police follow him into the lot. He exits on foot and carjacks the wrecker.

3. 9:14 He abandons the wrecker on Cone St within a few blocks of the courthouse and carjacks a Mercury Sable.

4. 9:16 He enters still another garage and carjacks an Isuzu Trooper. He orders the driver to get down in the passenger floorboards and demands a jacket. He starts to remove his own shirt and the passenger jumps from the moving SUV.

5. 9:20 He accosts Don O'Briants and carjacks the Green Honda. He abandons it one floor down.

6. 9:30 He walks out of the Centennial Park garage and police lose track of him.

They spend the rest of the day and evening until 11:00 looking for the Green Honda.

I have not seen any information on where the police think that he was between 9:30 and his assault of a couple in a condo complex close to Lenox Mall and the Lenox MARTA station at 10:40 pm. I still believe that he took the rail system from the Philips Arena station and spent most of his day at Lenox Mall.

I believe that the police have another assault/robbery reported somewhere near a MARTA station and that is where he acquired the money for his MARTA trip, the hat and the $40.00 he offered to Ashley Smith. They have not released any video from the MARTA system which leads me to believe that the video cameras were not operating, and Pennington's certainty of Nichols using MARTA must come from a police report of a crime near a station. Remember, downtown was flooded with people in town for the tournament, and MARTA stations always have extra personnel at the gates during big events, so he most likely didn't do any turnstile jumping.

Ashley Smith told Fox 5 Atlanta that he was wearing a "new" ball cap when he first assaulted her, so it logical that he got it at the mall. Although, an alternative theory is that he could have gotten the hat from a vendor around the SEC tournament, which definitely puts him nearer the Philips Arena station than the Five Points station.

Regardless of where he got the hat and if it were me, I would hide in plain site at a mall. The addition of a ball cap was a smart move. Rent a Cops at malls are more interested in shoplifters and probably were not included in the BOLO from Atlanta police. Besides, the BOLO was for a "bald" guy.

This guy definitely was not a candidate for the "stupid criminal files." Is there a "stupid police files?" I have several nominations I would like to make...


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Early Opportunities Wasted

Link Police apparently missed an opportunity to trap Brian G. Nichols in a downtown parking garage just minutes after Friday's courthouse shooting spree — the first of several lost chances to catch him that day.

Two attendants at Five Points Garage said they heard a sport utility vehicle driven by Nichols smash through the gate and screech into the garage. Atlanta police units were just seconds behind.

The attendants said they twice tried to show officers how to block the only exits from the garage at Wall and Peachtree streets, three blocks from the Fulton County Courthouse. Instead, a motorcycle officer and two squad cars sped into the structure after Nichols, leaving no one to watch for him at street level.

Seconds later, Nichols calmly walked down a stairwell and out of the garage with two handguns tucked in his pants, the attendants said Monday. "He kept looking back to the steps," said attendant Frank Holston. A second attendant confirmed the story but would not give his name.

Police asked, " 'Which way did he go?' " Holston recalled.

"I told them this is the only way he can get out, down here, but they didn't listen. They could have gotten him here, but they didn't. All of them went up behind him."

Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said he was unaware of the exchange but said the department would review its actions at the garage.

The attendants said they had not been questioned by police as of Monday.

It is apparent they have inadequate training in chases and in searches. It is amazing that they didn't have one officer stay on the scene to get statements from these attendants at the time, they would have been able to establish that Nichols left on foot. This also means that, more than likely, Chief Pennington's protestations that they had witnesses saying he left by car, were untrue. It is more damning that they still have not sent someone to interview the attendants. They still don't know who all of the participants are in this case.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Bumbling Mouthpieces

A quote for the FUCO and Atlanta City Officials appearing on cable news shows to ponder.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

--Abraham Lincoln

I have had more emails and comments suggesting they shut up than I have for any other topic. These guys apparently have IQs equal to their pants sizes.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Security Continues to Tighten

Link Courthouse Security Tightened

(AP) The Fulton County Sheriff's Office Tuesday outlined some of the changes to improve courthouse security, adding that more changes would be coming soon. Plainclothes officers have been put in uniform and moved to courtrooms, and 40 uniformed deputies have been added to the courthouse. A system has been set up to identify high-risk inmates, who will be escorted by officers with special training in handling such inmates. Additional safety equipment, including additional stun belts have been ordered. The changes are in response to Friday's attacks allegedly by Brian Nichols. (***03/15/05 10:00pm***)


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Sign the Guest Books

Link I am providing a link to the AJC for those so inclined to sign the guest books for the victims of Brian Nichols. Information on their memorials is there, also.

God Bless.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - List of Names Found In Jail Cell

Link The AJC is reporting tonight that a list of names was found in Nichol's jail cell. This apparent hit list included his ex-girlfriend and her family among others. The AJC is also reporting that the police placed some who were on the list in protective custody. Of course, they didn't say at what time they were rounded up for their safety. Maybe, Sunday morning?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - DA's Office Has History of Problems

Link "Brian Nichols is but one of hundreds of criminals that Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard failed to prosecute competently."

That is a quote from Denise Sorino a former attorney in the FUCO DA's office. She points out that Howard's ADA told CNN that "we had no reason to believe he (Nichols) could be violent." Hello, he was on trial for viciously holding his ex-girlfriend hostage for 3 days, repeatedly raping and sodomizing her at gunpoint. And don't forget, he was caught with handmade weapons in the courthouse two days prior to his rampage.

Howard was asked on national TV if he thought it was improper to have a 51 year old, petite grandma guarding an uncuffed 200 lb. former linebacker and he said "No." Incredible. It appears that the judgment of the DA and his office is lacking to say the least. Since all FUCO sheriffs, prosecutors and deputies report to Howard, he should be held to account for the lapses in judgment and "sloppy" courthouse security that lead to the needless deaths of four people and serious wounding of one.

There is a backlog of thousands of cases that have had no attention, many of which were criminals that committed crimes AFTER Howard took office. Yet he continues to blame the logjam on prior administrations. Many of the alleged perpetrators are today walking the streets. How many of these perps have continued their criminal activities while these cases languish? And what does this do to the patrolman's morale who arrested these people to begin with?

Ms. Sorino says the jury foreman in the original Nichols case wanted to write to DA Howard to "express our frustration at how poorly both the police investigation and the district attorney's office had conducted the investigation and trial?" It was revealed last week that some of the forensic information had not even been sent out for testing until after Nichols first mistrial. The forensics results were the cornerstone of Nichols attorney's assertion Saturday that he felt that his client would have been convicted of the rape case during the second trial. It is amazing that this DA's office is so incompetent that it goes to trial without its ducks in a row. If they had had their ducks lined up, Nichols would have been convicted the first time, and this entire situation would never had happened.

It has also been asserted by Ms. Sorino's sources in the DA's office that material evidence was withheld by the DA's office that lead to a plea deal in the Ray Lewis murder trial which Court TV predicted was probably going to be dismissed by the judge before the defense even got started. Do you know how rare a directed acquittal is? Ms. Sorino claims at least three sources in the DA's office to back her claim of evidence suppression. Normally DA's are accused of suppressing evidence that exonerates defendants, not convicts them.

Howard is currently being investigated for an ethics violation in which a democratic politician was indicted on 142 counts of stealing and corruption in relation to Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. This fiasco was languishing in DA Howard's office for FOUR years before the feds stepped in and filed charges against Georgia Senator (D) Charles Walker. Howard now claims to have lost the evidence his office was collecting in the case.

Ms. Sorino alleges that members of DA Howard's own office have been arrested on drug related offenses and have not been prosecuted. Hell, they should have been drug-tested and fired at the very least. Instead, they are continuing their employment, probably secure in the knowledge that they will never be tried.

It appears that enough incestuous back scratching has gone on at all levels of government in Atlanta and FUCO that it may take this tragedy to unravel it. The democratic machine that controls the city of Atlanta and Fulton County may finally be dismantled. Since a federal agent is dead, the federal government will take an avid interest in this case. If the DA's office continues its pattern of incompetence and cover-ups for politicians, Brian Nichols will find himself on trial in federal court. And the mafioso-like political machine in Atlanta may find itself on the receiving end of the feds wrath.

I'm taking bets on how soon these politicians start crying racism when investigations by both the Republican controlled state government and the FBI begin. Any takers?


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Questions About Marta

Link Brian Nichols appeared before a Cobb county judge today from a cell at the jail where he is being held on the original rape charge. He was shackled and surrounded by 19 officers. He is being held without bond. Additional charges on his bloody rampage will be filed soon.

Many in the community are seeking questions about his 26 hour flight from justice. Of particular concern are questions surrounding the failure to search the parking garage where the green Honda had been ditched just moments after the carjacking of Don O'Briants and questions about why no one spotted him in or around the Marta stations downtown and later at Lenox Mall. A MARTA spokesman said that although the investigators are sure he used the rail system to get to Buckhead, no images of him have been noted in the surveillance footage.

It is my belief that many of the MARTA cameras may not be in working condition and that it will be shown that, just as in the video surveillance at the courthouse, no one was live-monitoring the video feeds. I also believe that MARTA may not have been included in the BOLO that was posted for him. I also believe that he was hiding in plain sight at the Lenox Square and/or Phipps Plaza malls until closing (that's why his next known crime occured at 10:40), and I seriously question whether any malls were put on security alert by the Atlanta Police Department.

Many people see cameras at public locations and are lulled into a false sense of security, believing that this somehow makes them safer. The the police will never catch a crime in progress. If no one is monitoring these cameras, then there is no way for officers to "protect and serve;" all they are able to do is investigate and apologize. Citizens beware, you are definitely on your own.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Security Shortfalls Highlighted Over Year Ago

CBS 46, the Atlanta CBS affiliate, tonight reported that the Safety Institute of Dallas, TX issued a report over one year ago detailing security shortcomings in the FUCO sheriff's office. This report apparently cited manpower shortages and procedural shortcomings and forewarned of the possibility of an occurance like the carnage that occurred in Atlanta on Friday.

CBS 46 says it is unclear whether any action had ever been ordered by the sheriff's department in response to the institute's report. It is highly likely that this report was ordered by former Sheriff Jackie Barrett due to the problems that were uncovered during her tenure.

FUCO and Atlanta administrations have a long history of ordering reports of this nature to give the appearance of immediate action in response to controversy. Once the report is finally issued, the media spotlight has focused on other issues, and no one ever seems to follow up to see if anything ever improves.

If history is any guide, the report lay around garnering dust instead of action. It would be interesting to know how much the county paid for this report and whether taxpayers feel they got any benefit.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Silent Alarms Went Unheeded

Link This report on Fox5Atlanta, the local Fox affiliate has some disturbing details about Nichols movements and the lack of response from the Sheriff's department.

Exclusive Details of Atlanta Courthouse Crime Spree

The deadly shooting rampage has made Atlanta and the country painfully aware of how vulnerable our courthouses can be. Fox5 News has uncovered exclusive details about the Fulton County courtroom murders and the man accused of pulling the trigger, Brian Nichols. We have learned that Nichols was alone at least ten minutes, after he allegedly attacked Deputy Cynthia Hall. During that time, he was shepherding people into the judge's chambers. Some of those people were triggering silent alarms. But for reasons still unknown, the Sheriff's Department never answered the calls. Friday's shooting has lawmakers considering a statewide courthouse security mandate. Right now in Georgia, procedures to secure criminal defendants vary from courthouse to courthouse, and sometimes from judge to judge. Today, state lawmakers made plans to set up a task force of law enforcement officers... that task force will recommend whether a statewide courthouse security standard is needed in georgia. Brian Nichols is expected to make his first court appearance tomorrow at the Fulton County Jail. A judge from outside of Fulton County will be brought in to read the charges against him. Brian Nichols is expected to make his first court appearance tomorrow at the Fulton County Jail. Meanwhile, the body of Customs agent David Wilhelm has been taken from Atlanta to North Carolina, where he will be laid to rest. The funeral service for David Wilhelm will be held in Salisbury, North Carolina on Thursday. Authorities say Wilhelm was Brian Nichols' final victim. The murder of three people at the fulton county courthouse was the only thought on the minds of many employees as they returned to work this morning. Security was beefed up, and the mood was somber. Employees tried to comfort each other with prayers....and hugs. But many workers felt uncomfortable entering the the building.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Changes Starting to Happen

Link 11 Alive News in Atlanta is reporting that changes are already starting to happen at the courthouse where 3 people were gunned down last Friday by Brian Nichols. They are bringing in reserve and retired deputies in the short term to beef up security checkpoints. Hopefully, this will free up some staff for escort duties. Deputies escorting defendants will no longer have any one-on-one situations, and escorting officers will no longer carry guns.

It has been revealed that 3 officers were on duty in the control room, but they have additional duties in addition to watching the monitors, and none of them saw the scuffle on camera 40 between the deputy and Nichols. They are tasked with answering phones, monitoring radio activity, and answering alarms. It is unclear how these additional tasks interfere with watching the monitors.

Judicial security is now under the microscope from promised congressional inquiries and from state lawmakers promising to hold "hearings." It seems the judges in the building have taken it upon themselves to take the lead in the changes, in the short term, to ensure their own safety.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Questions About Search

1. Was the BOLO that was issued to the agencies in the Atlanta area also extended to Marta?

2. Once the perpetrator left the building, why were no roadblocks set up in concentric rings around the area?

3. Why wasn't the entire parking garage searched?

4. Why weren't all parking garages in the downtown area searched for the car or for signs of another carjacking?

5. Why weren't the security cameras in the parking garage immediately viewed to try and ascertain which way he left the lot and which direction he was travelling?

6. Once the car was determined not to have left the parking garage, were tracking dogs brought in to determine how the perpetrator might have left? If not, why not?

7. Why did it take several hours to determine that Nichols was the perpetrator of the assault in Buckhead at 10:40? What steps were taken once this was determined?

8. Have the surveillance cameras at Lenox Square been examined to determine if he was inside the mall?

9. Since he mentioned Lenox Square to Don O'Briants, was mall security notified of the BOLO?

10. Were the parking areas at Lenox searched for the car?

11. How could Nichols navigate the crowds around the Marta station and the extra security that was added for the SEC tournament and no one spotted him?

12. Were the officers that were on security for the SEC notified that this guy was in the area? If not, why not when that area was a target rich zone?

13. It has been reported that he was wearing a new hat, has it been determined where he acquired the item? Was it the mall?

14. It appears he may have gone directly to the mall and stayed until closing, why wasn't he spotted there?

15. Does Marta have the capacity to "live monitor" their cameras? Were they asked to with specific instructions about this individual?

16. Why didn't the Marta cameras pick up Nichols entering or exiting their stations?

17. Why was the coordination and search so poorly handled that all avenues for escape at all points were not explored before they were discarded for the Amber alert posting of the green Honda?

18. Why did no one consider the possibility of "red herrings" from a perp that had shown considerable intelligence in his flight?

19. Which search procedures would have been altered if the green Honda had been found earlier in the day? How much time and manpower was lost by missing this piece of evidence?

20. Why were the police so wedded to the theory that the perpetrator was in a vehicle, when they didn't verify his egress from the parking deck?

21. Since eyewitness reports are deemed usually unreliable, why do you continue to state you had no reason to look for anything other than the green Honda?

22. How could manpower have been redirected if it were known he was using Marta to travel?

23. Was any coordination of incident reports of crimes during that period done to see if a trail could be developed to trace his movements?

24. Where did Nichols get the money he offered to Ashley Smith?

25. All of the local interstates have live video feeds to the traffic center, why did you need to have groups of squad cars stationed on the interstates awaiting his arrival if you could spot him via the feeds?

Please feel free to add comments for more items that need to be answered about the search and apprehension of Nichols.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Questions of Courthouse Security

Here is an updated list of questions that need to be answered by
authorities related to the murders. I am separating them into two
categories for clarity - the courthouse security and the search
conducted by police. Please continue to send me suggestions for
additions to this list.

1. Why wasn't security beefed up at the courthouse after it was requested by Judge Barnes?

2. Why wasn't an investigation immediately launched into how he managed to fashion the weapons he had in his shoes and procedures reexamined in light thereof?

3. How often are prisoners in the courthouse found with weapons and other contraband? Do these incidents ever get reviewed?

4. It has been implied, but not proven, that the courtroom itself was to have additional security for the trial, why did no one think it was necessary in hallways where he could grab anyone passing by?

5. Why were defendants routinely allowed to be escorted through the hallways uncuffed? Couldn't they have had the cuffs removed just before the jury entered the courtroom?

6. Why wasn't there a procedure in place to lock down the courthouse once shots were heard?

7. Why didn't the personnel who were supposed to be monitoring the video feeds from the various cameras in the courthouse notice an altercation in the holding area that was allegedly 3 minutues in duration?

8. Are any procedures in place that are drilled regularly like tornado drills and fire drills to practice hostage situations and shootings inside the courthouse? And if not, why not?

9. Why were memos that warned the security ratio of defendants to deputies ignored?

10. Was it acceptable under current protocols to allow only one deputy to escort a defendant from the new courthouse holding area to the old courthouse? And if so, why?

11. Are the protocols written in such a way that they allow a defendant with the size and strength of a football player to be escorted by one middle-aged female deputy? Did political correctness play a role in the protocols instead of common sense?

12. Is it true, as Deputy Sgt Rambo reported, that there are no physical fitness standards in place for the Sheriff's department? Why not?

13. Is it true that current policy allows a female deputy allowed to observe the clothing change of a male defendant? What about the reverse?

14. When the new sheriff assumed his duties, did he review the procedures that were in place at the jail and courthouse?

15. Did the sheriff make any changes to procedures in the jail or courthouse since he was hired? What were they?

16. Did the new sheriff have a channel for officers to express any concerns they had in regards to security or for any changes they might feel could improve the security to be expressed and acted upon?

17. Will the personnel that were in charge of video surveillance inside the courthouse be suspended, pending review?

18. Why are the lockboxes that deputies use for gun storage in plain site of defendants, who can observe the procedure?

Please add additional comments and questions that you would like to have answered by the authorities.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Mistrial in Rape Case

Link A mistrial has been declared in the Nichols rape trial. The judges cited the killing of the presiding judge in the midst of the trial, the prejudicial media coverage of the killing spree, and some comments that were made by his attorney on TV over the weekend as the compelling factors in their decision. His attorney acknowledged in several interviews on Greta Van Susteren and on Nancy Grace that the trial was going against Nichols and predicted that he probably would have been convicted on the charges. His attorney's discussion of the trial is, to me, a non-issue, given that he must have realized that there was no way the trial could continue, and he could do no harm to a trial that was moot at that point. Having a jury report to court for a continuation of the present trial, given what the jurors know about the spree and given that they were in the courthouse and, therefore, at risk, seems to be an outlandish proposition and reversable on appeal. No other outcome on that charge could be expected.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - More thoughts From Others on The Web

Link I am linking to Michael King who has been blogging this story from the outset, too, and has more thoughts on the Atlanta and FUCO officials.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - A Vote of No Confidence?

Local media are reporting that the judges in the Atlanta Courthouse met yesterday (Sunday) and have decided to hold a limited "emergencies" only calendar for Monday and then be down for the rest of the week. They cite the need for a time to grieve for all who work at the courthouse, which I fully understand, but I suspect it is a vote of no confidence in the FUCO Sheriff's department and in their security efforts that in no small way drives this move. This is the proverbial shot accross the bow, and contrary to those who have emailed to say that they don't think heads will roll, I believe that these judges have had a serious wakeup call and will not hesitate to hold the FUCO Sheriff's office over an open pit and turn up the flames as needed. Suffice it to say, breathing trumps politics. This will get really ugly really fast.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Add'l Info on the History of Problems

Link I have linked to an AJC post that documents many of the problems that I wrote about on Friday. It also highlights additional incidents that I don't remember getting much attention in the local coverage - particularly the more recent ones. Could these incidents have been downplayed; because, the former sheriff and lightning rod for scandals, Jackie Barrett, was out of office? Or was the hush up an effort to cut the new administration some slack? Maybe. The slack they gave the current administration just hanged them.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Geraldo sites our Questions

Geraldo Rivera posed several of the questions that I posed on my blog yesterday in regards to the search for Nichols. I am glad that he uses information that is forwarded to Fox (I sent them myself)- too bad Geraldo can't source it properly.


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - The Duh Zone

Link Senior Superior Court Judge Philip Etheridge is quoted in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution saying allowing an armed deputy to be alone in a holding cell with a defendant who has been shown to be a high security risk is "absolutely ludicrous." He then went further stating that "there is no way that anyone could have thought Cynthia Hall would have been able to handle a situation with Brian Nichols. No bloody way." Deputy Sgt. Charles Rambo told the AJC he believes the department needs to institute fitness standards and possibly physical requirements for the hiring of personnel charged with handling high risk prisoners. It is inconceivable that these standards are not already required.

Judge Etheridge also described the security as "sloppy" and "lackadaisical." This criticism is from a judge who is in a unique position to describe the courthouse's security - he observed the procedures daily. This charge is a loaded one and a potentially damning one. It implies that there was no discipline in carrying out security procedures such as they existed. It also implies that the PERSONNEL themselves were at fault and unprofessional. No amount of procedural upgrades will correct ambivalence. Of course, when personnel are hired and promoted through politics and cronyism, temperament, merit and professionalism fall by the wayside. Anytime you have cronyism as the overriding factor in employment and job security, personnel feel that they can do as they please; because, they are protected by their connections.

Sheriff Freeman declined to go into any details on policy and procedures falling back on the usual crutch of an "investigation." Deputy Sgt. Rambo, who ran against Freeman and lost in November 2004, refused to place blame on Freeman, instead blaming judges as "uncooperative" on security issues. He obviously is well indoctrinated in the political sport of buck passing, too. Unlike Freeman's reticence, Rambo did say that current policy allows a SINGLE deputy to escort up to FOUR prisoners at a time and allows for a single deputy to enter a holding cell with a prisoner. These policies are so egregious that it calls into question the judgement of all ranking officers in the Sheriff's department. When laypeople have a "duh" moment about these issues and the brass doesn't, something is seriously wrong.

The most outrageous statement made by Sheriff Freeman to date is "IF something needs to be changed, we'll change it." IF?...DUH...


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Whiffs of Impropriety?

Link And so he picked me up and took me to the bathroom. And he put me on a stool that I have in my bathroom. He said he wanted to take a shower.

So I said, "OK. You take a shower."

He said, "Well I'm going to put a towel over your head so you don't have to watch me take a shower."

So I said, "OK. All right."

This is an excerpt of the interview with Ashley Smith, the woman who was held by Nichols and eventually turned him in. It's nice to know that he had a more robust sense of propriety than the FUCO Sheriff's department that sent a 51 year old grandmother to supervise his clothing change for court. It is unbelievable that they allow women to supervise men in this way. Do they allow men to supervise the women changing clothes, too?

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Reactive Not Proactive

Link "Sometimes you are reacting to information you are receiving" Sgt. John Quigley.

Yea...and reactive searches are always several steps behind. Do they realize how incompetent they sound even when they try to spin it?


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Angel God Led Me To

Link Ashley Smith is one cool cookie. Her choice of reading material says a lot about her. She definitely earned the $65,000 reward.

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