On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols was on trial in Atlanta for the brutal rape and beating of his ex-girlfriend. Despite multiple warnings from his friends and family that he might try to escape, somehow Nichols was allowed to change into his courtroom suit watched by a single guard, Cynthia Hall, who inexplicably chose to leave his leg shackles off. When she unlocked his handcuffs, he savagely beat her and made his escape. Hall lived, but she was one of the lucky ones. Nichols took off with Hall’s gun and when it was over, he had killed Rowland Barnes, the judge in his case; court reporter Julie Brandau; and Police Sgt. Hoyt Teasley before making his escape. Nichols managed to make it out of downtown Atlanta after killing David Wilhelm, an immigration officer, and hijacking several cars. The next morning, a 911 call reported that Nichols was holed up in an apartment in Duluth, Ga. A SWAT team swarmed the scene and, just three hours later, Nichols walked out peacefully. The reason? Nichols had, at random, invaded the home of Ashley Smith (now Ashley Smith Robinson), a 31-year-old widowed mother who, against all odds, established a rapport that included, at one point reading to him from the Bible and Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. And, yes, she gave him some crystal meth, which Smith Robinson said she had used just days earlier. Nichols was caught and later given multiple life sentences for his killings; Smith was unharmed and turned away from a life of drugs and began a series of motivational-speaking engagements.