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Baby's birth preceded rampage

ATLANTA -- A girlfriend of the man suspected in last week's courthouse killings gave birth to his child three days before the rampage, and she said Nichols repeatedly expressed his desire to be with the child.

Prosecutors have suggested that Brian Nichols was worried about being convicted at his trial on rape charges, but have not revealed a detailed motive.

''I do know that he wanted to be with the baby; he did speak about it all the time," said Sonya Meredith, the mother of the baby boy.

She said Nichols made those statements in the days and weeks leading up to the shootings.

The doctor for the deputy allegedly attacked by Nichols said that the officer has no memory of the assault. Cynthia Hall's amnesia could subside as her brain injury heals, doctors said.

Authorities also said yesterday that the deputy was not armed in the holding cell where the attack occurred.

Sheriff Myron Freeman said Nichols attacked Hall, stole her keys, and retrieved her gun from a lock box.

Nichols allegedly then moved on to the courtroom where his rape trial was being held and killed the judge and a court reporter.

Authorities say he later killed a deputy and a federal agent before surrendering.

Nichols had been on trial for a second time on charges of raping and holding a former girlfriend hostage. It was in the middle of that retrial, on March 8, when Meredith, another girlfriend of Nichols's, gave birth to their son.

The day after Meredith gave birth, jail officials found homemade knives in each of Nichols's shoes.

Two days later, authorities say, Nichols went on the rampage.

Erik Friedly, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment about the case yesterday or provide further details about a motive.

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