Poor Brian Nichols. He just can't catch a break. Here it has been only a little over three years since he killed four innocent people - three of them in front of dozens of witnesses - and despite the state having spent millions of dollars for defense attorneys on his behalf, he still has to go on trial.
And now, to add insult to injury, the mean old judge won't issue a court order prohibiting the media from publishing pictures of Nichols with a bearded face. Nichols' attorney argued that the beard makes Nichols look "sinister" and might prejudice potential jurors.
Goodness gracious sakes alive! The whole world knows what Brian Nichols did, and if his acts, in and of themselves, aren't sinister enough, I don't think seeing a picture of him in a beard will make matters worse.
Besides, I resent the insinuation that a beard makes a person look sinister. I've worn a beard for almost as long as I can remember, and my picture is in a paper somewhere just about every day and nobody, to my knowledge, has accused me of looking sinister.
They have accused me of just about everything else, but not looking sinister.
Besides, Brian Nichols is in good company when he grows a beard. Some of the greatest men in history have had beards - and one or two women.
God had a beard, if you can trust Michelangelo's artwork. I don't know what he used for a reference, but whenever he painted pictures of God, God had a flowing white beard. It hasn't seemed to hurt God's image any.
Speaking of flowing white beards, Santa Claus is another bearded fellow, and a beard doesn't make him look sinister at all. In fact, he often is referred to as a "right jolly old elf." Maybe if Brian Nichols doesn't want to be seen as sinister, he should come down chimneys and leave toys lying around instead of brutally attacking the sheriff's deputy who is guarding him and then shooting innocent people with her gun.
Robert E. Lee had a beard, for goodness sake - and so did Stonewall Jackson. There has never been a more decent and revered person than Marse Robert, and Stonewall Jackson was a Presbyterian. Whoever heard of a sinister Presbyterian?
And if you aren't from around here, Abraham Lincoln had a beard, too. Old Abe had a reputation for being honest, but nobody ever said his beard made him look sinister. In fact, he grew the thing, so legend says, to cover up some of his ugliness.
I could go on and on and on, of course, 'cause there have been a lot of folks throughout history who have worn beards besides me and God and Robert E. Lee - and I can think of very few who were particularly evil.
In fact, most of the evil people I know were clean shaven. Take Al Capone, for instance. His face was as smooth as a baby's bottom - even when he was in the Big House. John Dillinger was clean shaven and so was O.J. - and Adolph Hitler was as sinister as they come, and the only facial hair he had was that funny little strip under his nose.
No, I don't think being photographed in a beard will have much effect on the outcome of Brian Nichols' trial - assuming, of course, that he actually ever has one.
I will tell you what will have an effect, though. The facts in the case. And the facts, I believe, will show that Brian Nichols - not an underprivileged waif of the streets but a member of a middle class family, a graduate of a Catholic boys' school in Baltimore and former college football player - did, while on trial for rape and false imprisonment, overpower and brutally assault Deputy Cynthia Hall before using her gun to murder Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau, and Sgt. Hoyt Teasley. Then for good measure he hijacked reporter Don O'Briant's car, pistol whipping him in the process and then murdered U.S. Customs Agent David Wilhelm.
The guy allegedly did all these things and is worried about a picture appearing in the paper of him wearing a beard.
Meanwhile, three years and three months have passed while Nichols has played the system for all it's worth as the state has spent millions of tax-payers' dollars in his defense.
And now, a week before the trial starts, he's worried because somebody photographed him with a beard.
Maybe they should sell chances for the opportunity to give Nichols a shave before the trial starts. I bet a lot of people would like to be alone with him and a straight razor.
And while Nichols continues to toy with the courts the families of Rowland Barnes, Julie Brandau, Hoyt Teasley and David Wilhelm will have to continue to wait for justice delayed.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.