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Atlanta courthouse killing suspect denied bail


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Brian Nichols arrives for his status hearing Tuesday at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
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Judge denies bail for Brian Nichols.

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A judge denied bail Tuesday morning for Brian Nichols, the suspect in the Atlanta killings of a judge, a deputy sheriff, a court reporter and a federal agent.

Chief Magistrate Judge Frank Cox -- of neighboring Cobb County -- presided over the hearing, which was held at the Fulton County Jail where Nichols, 33, is being held in maximum security.

Nichols entered the white, cinder-block jailhouse courtroom to the sound of clicking news cameras. Nearly 20 deputies were on hand.

Nichols wore a blue jump suit and blue slippers. His hands and legs were shackled.

Defense attorneys Chris Adams and Gary Parker said Nichols wished to remain silent.

When the judge asked Nichols whether he had any questions or a statement, Nichols replied: "Not at this time."

Tuesday's appearance was the first time the public has seen Nichols since he was captured Saturday in a suburb northeast of Atlanta.

Prosecutor Michele McCutcheon said the state intended to file four charges of murder -- as well as felony escape charges and "other felonies" -- against Nichols at a later date.

The judge read previous rape charges against Nichols, on which he is being held while prosecutors arrange formal charges on the murders.

"It's really just kind of a place-holding situation," said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

"This will be an investigation of some complexity given the sheer number of crimes that he's likely to be charged with. So this is a process that's only going to get started today and probably will last several months," Toobin said.

After the hearing, Adams spoke to reporters. "This is a time of grief and mourning for the courthouse community," Adams said. "We're going to respect that. There will be plenty of time for us later to lay out our legal arguments and examine the evidence and search for answers in this case."

A few blocks away at Fulton County Courthouse, employees attended a memorial service for the three people killed at the courthouse on Friday morning.

Nichols statement

On Monday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN's Paula Zahn that Nichols had made a statement to police after his arrest Saturday.

"I can say he gave a statement, and he was cooperative," Howard said, adding that his duties as prosecutor prevented him from going into further detail.

Howard said he saw Nichols shortly after he was taken into custody and he appeared to be "someone who was proud of what he had done -- that he did not show remorse."

"From the responses that I was able to see personally, that's the impression that I received," the district attorney said.

Prosecutors have not said if they will seek the death penalty against Nichols, but Howard said the shootings were among "the most horrendous crimes" local law enforcement had ever seen.

A judge declared a mistrial Monday in Nichols' retrial on the rape, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment charges. Nichols' retrial was in progress when the shootings occurred.

At the courthouse on Friday, police said Nichols overpowered a deputy sheriff while they were en route to his retrial. He escaped and walked to a courtroom, shooting and killing Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland W. Barnes and court reporter Julie Ann Brandau, police said. During his escape Nichols also shot and killed sheriff's deputy Sgt. Hoyt Teasley.

Police said Nichols then carjacked several vehicles -- injuring a local newspaper reporter -- and then boarded a MARTA subway train north to Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.

Authorities said Nichols then shot and killed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent David Wilhelm at his home which was under construction near the MARTA station. Next, Nichols stole Wilhelm's truck -- police said -- and drove it to an apartment complex to the northeast in Gwinnett County. There, he took Ashley Smith, 26, hostage, police said. (Full story)

Smith said she was taken captive early Saturday morning, but she gained Nichols' trust by talking to him about her 5-year-old daughter, God and hope. He later gave himself up to police outside Smith's apartment. (Full story)

Smith downplayed her efforts Monday night.

"Throughout my time with Mr. Nichols, I continued to rely [on] my faith in God. God has helped me through tough times before, and he'll help me now," she told reporters at a news conference in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.

CNN's David Mattingly and Kimberly Osias contributed to this report.


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