Suspect's lawyer: Shooting 'wasn't really a surprise'
Brian Nichols' attorney described him as "a very intelligent, articulate man."
Authorities search for a suspect after a judge is fatally shot.
How authorities and judges deal with threats.
Atlanta police requested that anyone with information related to the case telephone 404-730-7983 or 404-730-7984.
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A defendant in a rape trial Friday overpowered a deputy sheriff and took her gun, using it to kill a judge and a court reporter before fleeing the building and fatally shooting another deputy, police said.
The shooting prompted a massive manhunt by local, state and federal authorities who were searching for the man, identified as 33-year-old Brian Nichols.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon spoke with Barry Hazen, the defense attorney for Nichols in his rape trial.
BLITZER: How long have you been involved, associated with Brian Nichols?
HAZEN: I began to represent Mr. Nichols in December of 2004.
BLITZER: So that's not all that long ago. And were you in the courtroom today with him?
HAZEN: Fortunately not. I was on my way to the courthouse, and [I] was about maybe 100 yards from the courthouse when I heard the sirens and saw the deputies running up the street with their guns out.
BLITZER: Tell us what he's like. You obviously spent some time talking to the suspect, who's still on the loose right now. What kind of man did he appear to be to you?
HAZEN: Well, he's a very intelligent, articulate man -- fairly well educated. He's very analytical, very logical. He's also very big and athletic. He's an avid basketball player. ...
If you talk with him and spend time with him, you get the impression that he's very laid back, very easygoing. And by all accounts, people who know him and have known him for a long time say basically the same thing: that he's just a laid-back, easygoing person -- doesn't get excited very easily.
BLITZER: But he does have a long criminal record, is that right?
HAZEN: No. The only criminal record he has, really, was a conviction when he was in college for ... disorderly conduct. And that would be a misdemeanor if it were here in Georgia.
BLITZER: What were the circumstances surrounding the rape allegation which he was facing?
HAZEN: He was involved with a woman for a number of years, a long-term relationship, about eight years. And that relationship began to deteriorate, and then he began to see another woman. That woman became pregnant and that, of course, caused tremendous stress within the relationship with his original girlfriend. And that relationship was kind of falling apart anyway. So this was just the icing on the cake.
He wanted to remain with her. She did not want to be with him, she says, and that gave rise to her claim that he attacked her back in last August. He claimed they were reconciling and they had consensual sex.
BLITZER: There had been a mistrial. That's why he was being retried this time. Is that what happened?
HAZEN: That's correct. Two weeks ago we tried the case. And it went about six days. And the jury split eight-four for acquittal, and they locked in. After about a day and a half of deliberations, none of the jurors was changing their vote. And so Judge [Rowland] Barnes declared a mistrial.
But the state and Judge Barnes wanted to try the case immediately. And so we began to try the case again this past Monday. And it likely would have ended either today or one more day. I had estimated the jury probably would have gotten the case late this afternoon, perhaps about 3 p.m. this afternoon.
BLITZER: How much of a surprise was this to you, given the knowledge, the personal relationship you have had with this suspect?
HAZEN: It wasn't really a surprise, because there had been an incident a couple of days ago where a deputy reported to the judge that Mr. Nichols had two metal objects, one in each shoe, when he went from the courthouse back to the Fulton County jail. The objects looked to be like heavy hinges. And one of them had a piece of material, cloth strung through a hole in the object.
The judge brought it to my attention and the attention of the assistant district attorneys, who were also trying the case yesterday morning. And everyone expressed concern about security.
Judge Barnes indicated to us that he was going to have security in the courtroom beefed up for the remainder of the trial. We were most concerned what reaction we would get if a jury were to convict him.
BLITZER: Because you thought he was unstable, is that what you're suggesting?
HAZEN: Well, not necessarily unstable. I didn't think he was unstable, but if somebody does come to a courtroom, and they've got what certainly can be used as a weapon secreted in their shoes, that's certainly going to raise your concerns about security and, you know, what his response might be if he were to be convicted. Also, it's a contraband. It's not something he's supposed to have. The concern was, how is he getting this stuff?
BLITZER: He's clearly a big, strong man: 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 210 pounds. When was the last time you spoke with him?
HAZEN: I spoke to him yesterday about 5 p.m. in the afternoon as the court was over, and I was packing up my belongings and leaving. That was the last time I saw him.
That would have been in the courtroom, because he wouldn't leave the courtroom until all the jurors left because, of course, he was still in custody, and we didn't want the jurors to see him in handcuffs. That would have been the typical protocol.
BLITZER: Were you ever scared of this client of yours?
HAZEN: No. He never indicated to me that he was violent or that he would likely be violent toward me.
BLITZER: What do you think this man is capable of doing now, now that he's on the loose?
HAZEN: Well, if the allegations are true, then he's capable of doing just about anything.