ATLANTA - The man awaiting trial for a bloody escape at the Atlanta courthouse in 2005 is suspected of enlisting his pen-pal girlfriend, a paralegal, and at least two sheriff's deputies in a scheme to break out again, according to law enforcement documents obtained by the Associated Press.
Brian Nichols allegedly plotted to cut his way through the cinderblock walls of the Fulton County Jail, jump into a waiting van, and make his way to his girlfriend up north.
Nichols evidently used his charm to draw his girlfriend into the plot, while some of the other players allegedly were bribed with cash and the prospect of romance with the woman, according to the documents, which include statements from the girlfriend and letters she exchanged with Nichols.
The alleged breakout attempt apparently did not get past the planning stages, and Nichols was abruptly moved to another jail in October 2006 for reasons that are not entirely clear.
Special prosecutor Ken Wynne, who has been reviewing the allegations since April, would not discuss the investigation Thursday, and no charges have been filed.
Exactly how the latest alleged plot came to authorities' attention is not explained, but they had been monitoring his conversations over a jailhouse phone, and later granted the girlfriend, Lisa Meneguzzo, 38, of Beacon Falls, Conn., immunity from prosecution. The documents obtained by the Associated Press consist largely of what she told investigators.
"My God," attorney James E. Voyles, who represents the widow of a sheriff's deputy Nichols is charged with killing in the shooting spree, said of the allegations. "It's shocking. I would be surprised if there were not indictments."
Reached by telephone yesterday, one of Nichols's lawyers refused to comment.
Nichols, 36, already faces murder and other charges in the March 11, 2005, escape and shooting rampage that began at a downtown courthouse and left four people dead.
He is charged with killing the judge presiding over his rape trial, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy who chased him outside, and a federal agent he encountered a few miles away.
Authorities said he forced his way into a woman's home and eventually surrendered after spending much of the night talking with her.
According to the documents obtained by the Associated Press, Meneguzzo said she began writing to Nichols after his arrest in the courthouse shootings, talked with him by phone and visited him a number of times in jail, where they held hands and kissed.