ATLANTA – The judge presiding over the trial of a man accused of shooting to death four people at Fulton County Courthouse during an escape attempt in 2005 recused himself Wednesday after an article in The New Yorker quoted him as saying of defendant Brian Nichols, “Everyone in the world knows he did it.” Judge Hilton Fuller’s move will further delay the trial, which Nichols stopped last year because Nichols’ attorneys were not being paid.
Nichols faces 54 federal charges. He was being tried for rape in March 2005 when he allegedly broke free from a deputy, shot to death a judge and court reporter, then killed another deputy and a federal agent.
Nichols’ attorneys offered to have him plead guilty if the state does not seek the death penalty. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. refused.
In recusing himself, Fuller wrote: “In light of recent media reports, I am no longer hopeful that I can provide a trial perceived to be fair for both the state and the accused.”
Fuller added, “Whether I was accurately quoted is immaterial. What is material is the perception created by that attribution.”