updated 4/15/2005 11:51:09 AM ET 2005-04-15T15:51:09

Amid heightened security, Fulton County courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols returned on Friday to the scene of his alleged crime.

Brian Nichols, accused of killing four people, was shackled at the ankles but not the wrists as he appeared at the courthouse for the first time since the March 11 attacks.

Three officers sat behind Nichols during the hearing in which defense lawyers argued that they should be allowed to question potential grand jurors who will hear the case about their exposure to media coverage of the shootings, which left a judge and three others dead.

Two other deputies, one next to the judge and one at the back of the courtroom, were at the hearing, as were other law enforcement officers, both in uniform and in street clothes.

One of Nichols' attorneys, Josh Moore, also argued that testimony during the upcoming grand jury proceedings should be recorded.

Prosecutors objected to both requests, arguing that the grand jury proceedings are confidential.

Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller took the motion under advisement. It was not clear when he would rule.

Nichols was a defendant being retried for rape at the time of the shootings when he allegedly overpowered a deputy and stole her gun. He is being held without bail on the rape charge, but has not been charged with the shootings. Prosecutors are waiting for a new grand jury to be impaneled on May 3.

The current grand jury was sworn in by Judge Rowland Barnes, who was slain in the attack.

"We support him 100 percent," said Gene Nichols, the suspect's father, after the hearing.

When asked what he would like to see come out of the case, he said, "I'd like to see less young men get caught up in the system."

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