- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

ATLANTA (AP) — 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 plotted to cut his way through the cinder-block walls of the Fulton County Jail, jump into a waiting van and make his way to his girlfriend up North, according to the documents.

Nichols evidently used his considerable charm to draw his girlfriend into the plot, while some of the other players 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 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 accusations since April, would not discuss the investigation, and no charges have been filed.

“It’s shocking. I would be surprised if there were not indictments,” said attorney James E. Voyles, who represents the widow of a sheriff’s deputy who Nichols is charged with killing in the shooting spree.

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 persons 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.

Exactly how the latest plot came to authorities’ attention is not explained, but they had been monitoring his conversations on a jailhouse phone, and later granted the girlfriend, Lisa Meneguzzo, 38, of Beacon Falls, Conn., immunity from prosecution. The documents consist largely of what she told investigators.

Miss 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.

She told investigators that Nichols asked her to go to a Home Depot store and buy a masonry saw, a circular saw, a jack and other tools capable of cutting through 11 to 12 inches of cinder block. It is not clear from the records whether the tools were bought.

In a letter to Miss Meneguzzo, Nichols said his plan once he got out was to hop into a cargo van driven by a friend who would pose as a Red Cross volunteer.

Miss Meneguzzo told investigators that a paralegal who once worked for Nichols’ defense team, Tamela Hysten, gave Nichols pages from a book that were about escape and evasion.

Miss Meneguzzo said she also helped recruit a deputy at the jail who was responsible for guarding Nichols, David Ramsey, saying that he made advances toward her in a jail elevator and that she used that to her advantage.

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