Lawyers: Bar death penalty in Ga. shooting case

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Lawyers: Bar death penalty in Ga. shooting case

Post  Jennie on Wed Jun 25, 2008 12:06 pm

Lawyers for a man charged in a bloody Atlanta courthouse escape while on trial for rape said Tuesday the district attorney improperly withheld information about police recordings implicating the lead prosecutor on the rape case in criminal activity.

Brian Nichols' lawyers asked a judge to bar DA Paul Howard's office from seeking the death penalty against Nichols and from using evidence in the rape case at Nichols' murder trial that resumes July 10. There was no immediate ruling.

Defense attorneys filed details of the allegation under seal.

The rape case is part of the prosecution's theory of motive for the March 11, 2005, shootings that started at the Fulton County Courthouse and led to the deaths of a judge, court reporter, sheriff's deputy and federal agent. The rape prosecutor, Gayle Abramson, is listed as a state witness at the murder trial.

Nichols' lawyers said the allegation, which they insist is true, "critically undermines Ms. Abramson's credibility as a witness as well as calls into serious question how the underlying prosecution was handled."

Howard said he didn't seek an investigation of the allegation because he didn't believe the people on the recordings.

"Why anyone would waste their time on this, I don't know," Howard said.

Howard said he wasn't obligated to disclose the allegation to Nichols' lawyers, who argue Howard did have a duty to disclose.

"Even they know better than that," Howard said.

An order in the Nichols case required Howard to reveal any "possible bias" on the part of his office.

Abramson, who left the DA's office several weeks after Howard learned of the accusation, said the claim about her is "inaccurate."

"I don't understand how a defense attorney would think any of this is relevant," Abramson said.

The allegation against Abramson was made in phone conversations in April 2005 that were recorded under a court-ordered wiretap in an unrelated case.

(source: Daily Report)
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