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Gunman convicted in Atlanta rampage

A man who escaped from custody during his rape trial in 2005 and launched a courthouse shooting spree that claimed the lives of four people was convicted of murder Friday.

Brian Nichols, 36, could face the death penalty for killing a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and a federal agent.

He had confessed to the killings but said he was legally insane and gripped by a delusional compulsion that he was a slave rebelling against authority. Jurors rejected that argument, finding him guilty of murder and dozens of other charges.

On March 11, 2005, Nichols was being escorted to a courtroom in downtown Atlanta where he was being tried on a rape charge, when he beat a deputy guarding him, stole her gun and went on a shooting spree.

He killed Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Deputy Hoyt Teasley in a 12-minute span.

He escaped in a stolen car and managed to evade police through the night. He headed for Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood, where he shot and killed federal agent David Wilhelm outside the house he was renovating.

Nichols was captured the next day after a woman he took hostage, Ashley Smith Robinson, alerted police of his whereabouts.

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