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Escaped hostage says she gave court shooting suspect drugs

Writes book detailing ordeal with gunman

ATLANTA -- Ashley Smith, the woman who says she persuaded suspected Atlanta courthouse gunman Brian Nichols to release her by talking about her faith in God, discloses in a new book that she gave him methamphetamine during the hostage ordeal.

Smith did not share that detail with authorities.

In her book, ''Unlikely Angel," released yesterday, Smith, 27, says Nichols had her bound on her bed with masking tape and an extension cord in her home. She says he asked for marijuana, but she did not have any, so she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead.

Smith, who has been in a mental hospital and has flunked out of drug rehab programs, says the seven-hour hostage ordeal led her to stop using drugs. She says she has not touched drugs since the night before she was taken hostage.

''If I did die, I wasn't going to heaven and say, 'Oh, excuse me, God. Let me wipe my nose, because I just did some drugs before I got here,' " Smith told the Augusta Chronicle.

Police said Nichols took Smith hostage in her apartment March 11 after a shooting rampage at the Atlanta courthouse.

During the ordeal, Smith says, she pulled out Rick Warren's book ''The Purpose-Driven Life" and read to Nichols a chapter called ''Using What God Gave Me" to gain his trust. Nichols later released her, and she called 911 and told authorities where to find him.

Nichols is accused of killing four people, including a judge, and could get the death penalty.

Since Nichols's arrest, Smith has received $70,000 in rewards and has been bombarded with offers for books, movies, and speaking engagements.

Calls to Nichols's attorneys were not immediately returned yesterday. Prosecution spokesman Erik Friedly would not comment on the case.

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