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Nichols indicted on kidnapping charges

LAWRENCEVILLE - The day before Brian Nichols appeared before a new judge about the long-awaited trial for the March 2005 Fulton County Courthouse shooting, a Gwinnett grand jury indicted the man for suspected crimes committed after the rampage.

Hours after the courthouse shooting, which left three people dead with another killed later, Nichols is accused of holding Ashley Smith hostage in her Duluth apartment. Charges listed in the Gwinnett indictment for that episode include kidnapping, false imprisonment and aggravated assault.

Local District Attorney Danny Porter said he still has an agreement to allow Fulton prosecutors to move forward with the murder trial, where Nichols faces the death penalty.

But Porter said he wanted to pursue the indictment before the statute of limitations on the Gwinnett crimes expires next year.

"It's the legal equivalent of a bookmark," Porter said, adding that he did not want to transport Nichols to Gwinnett's jail.

Because of legal wranglings in the Fulton case, including funding issues for the state's strapped indigent defense system and the recent departure of a judge assigned to the case, Porter acknowledged the possibility of a mistrial, but said he believed the trial would be able to proceed.

Instead, he said he wanted to ensure that Smith "has her day in court," as she is also a crime victim. Smith, who has moved out of the county, has published a book recounting the hours she spent with Nichols.

If Nichols receives a death sentence in the Fulton case, Porter said he won't pursue prosecution.

"Why would I send Gwinnett County taxpayers' money on a case where Fulton County jurors decided he should die for his crimes?" Porter said. "I want to keep all my options open. ... He committed crimes in Gwinnett County, and we believe we have evidence to go forward to prosecute those crimes."