The man accused of killing four people in a shooting spree that began in a courthouse had asked a female friend who visited him in jail to describe the location of a tower and barbed wire around the building, according to a transcript of a recorded call disclosed Tuesday.
The June 24, 2006, call between Lisa Meneguzzo, who helps out at a family-run business in Torrington, Conn., and the defendant, Brian Nichols, was referenced by prosecutors in a motion regarding some 400 hours of Nichols’ telephone calls that have been recorded while he has been in jail.
Prosecutors said in their filing that the selected conversation and others they have gathered are “undeniably damning and relevant to defendant’s future dangerousness.”
The disclosure follows previous assertions by prosecutors that Nichols was plotting another escape while in custody for the March 11, 2005, killings of a judge, court reporter, sheriff’s deputy and federal agent.
“We’re gonna drive right into your parking lot now,” Meneguzzo, says via cell phone to Nichols, who is on a phone inside the Fulton County Jail, according to the transcript.
“If you look to your right, what do you see?” Nichols asks.
“A (inaudible) field, now we see the part with the barbed wire fence,” Meneguzzo says.
Later in the conversation, Meneguzzo says, “There’s a part of the building that has a barbed wire fence going around it.”
“To the right?” Nichols asks.
“Yeah, to the tower,” Meneguzzo says.
“What tower?” Nichols asks.
“A little tower that I never see anyone in,” Meneguzzo responds.
Reached at her office Tuesday, Meneguzzo said she did not recall the conversation.
Asked if Nichols has been plotting an escape, Meneguzzo said, “He is not.”
One of Nichols’ defense lawyers, Gary Parker, did not immediately return a call to his cell phone Tuesday seeking comment. Defense lawyers did not speak to reporters after a court hearing Tuesday held to discuss a defense request to bar the media and public from viewing individual questioning of potential jurors in Nichols’ murder trial.
Meneguzzo’s relationship with Nichols is unclear, but she has visited him several times in jail, according to visitor records previously obtained by The Associated Press.
Defense seeks closed-door jury questioning
At Tuesday’s hearing, meanwhile, defense lawyers argued that the questioning of potential jurors should be held behind closed doors to protect their privacy, especially because they may be asked mental health questions. Lawyers for several news organizations, including The AP, argued the voir dire process should be open to the public. There was no immediate ruling by Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller.
Nichols, 35, was being escorted to a courtroom in the Fulton County Courthouse for the continuation of his retrial on rape charges when he allegedly beat a deputy, stole her gun and went on a deadly shooting spree.
He is accused of killing the judge presiding over the rape trial, Rowland Barnes; a court reporter chronicling the proceeding, Julie Ann Brandau; a sheriff’s deputy who chased him outside, Hoyt Teasley; and a federal agent he encountered at a home a few miles away that night, David Wilhelm. Nichols surrendered the next day after allegedly taking a woman hostage in her suburban Atlanta home.
The next phase of jury selection is set to begin March 27