updated 10/6/2008 6:54:55 PM ET 2008-10-06T22:54:55

The woman credited with helping bring about the surrender of accused courthouse gunman Brian Nichols has testified today at his murder trial in Atlanta.

Ashley Smith Robinson recounted how she appealed to Nichols' religious beliefs during hours in captivity before persuading him to set her free.

Smith Robinson testified that she said "whatever was necessary to get on his good side."

She says while watching news reports of the crimes, Nichols muttered to himself "God, please forgive me." She says she also pulled out Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life" and read to Nichols a chapter to gain his trust.

At one point, she says, Nichols described himself as a "brother in Christ."

Authorities say Smith Robinson's calm dealings with her captor helped bring about Nichols' surrender after he burst into her suburban Atlanta apartment and held her for seven hours.

Nichols is accused of fatally shooting a judge, court reporter, sheriff's deputy and a federal agent.

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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