ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Relatives and friends of a judge and court reporter killed in a 2005 shooting at Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse took the stand Thursday in the penalty phase of the gunman's trial.
Some wept as they spoke of how the deaths have affected their lives and of their continued struggles with sadness, fear and anger.
Claudia Barnes, widow of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, recalled asking permission to hold her husband's hand one last time before his body was cremated.
"He and I held hands constantly for 13 years," she said.
She remembered running her hands over the judge's face -- over the temple, where the bullet fired by escaped prisoner Brian Gene Nichols entered his head -- and over the judge's beard, which she always kept trimmed.
"I hope the love of my life did not suffer," Claudia Barnes said softly, reading from prepared notes.
"My faith in God has allowed me to remain sane. ... At times, it almost seems too much for me, but I try to do the best that I can." She said her life with the judge "was not long enough."
Nichols, 36, was convicted this month of 54 counts including capital murder.
He overpowered Fulton County Deputy Cynthia Hall on March 11, 2005, as he was being led into Barnes' courtroom to face a second trial on rape charges.
Nichols then took Hall's gun from a lockbox and fatally shot three people at the courthouse: Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Fulton County Deputy Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, who attempted to apprehend him outside the building.
Nichols was also convicted of killing David Wilhelm, a federal customs agent, hours later at Wilhelm's home in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Jurors heard victim impact statements Thursday as part of Nichols' penalty phase, in which they will decide whether he will receive the death penalty sought by prosecutors.
As relatives of his victims spoke, Nichols appeared somber, with his eyes downcast, but showed no further emotion.
"Nothing anybody does will bring my daddy back," said an emotional Kiley Barnes, the judge's daughter.
She said her father raised her from age 2 and "made it his life's work to conquer becoming a single parent."
She recalled her father asking her to bring him her Barbie doll and show him how to create pigtails on either side of her head, and said the judge once literally gave the shirt off his back to a man at a Christmas party after the man complimented him on it.
She said her father shared his passion for the law with her, and she remembered how proud he was at her college graduation, as she was one step closer to becoming a lawyer.
Kiley Barnes said she was hoping that after Nichols' conviction, she would feel better because justice had been done.
"Instead, I feel as heartbroken and as lonely as I did on March 11, 2005," she said.
Brandau's daughter, Christina Scholte Greenway, was an 18-year-old college freshman at the time of the shootings. She told jurors her mother could not attend her graduation from college or nursing school or her wedding last month.
"My husband never got a chance to meet my mother," she said. "I know in my heart that she would have loved him. ... I walked down the aisle wearing her veil."
Brandau's sister, Trudy Brandau, said she lost the only remaining member of her immediate family. The two sisters had grown close after the deaths of another sister and both parents, she said. "Julie's death changed everything in my life."
Candee Wilhelm told jurors about her husband's death and how she was "ripped in two" when he was killed.
"David was simply the most wonderful person I will ever know," she said.
Both she and sister-in-law Allison Wilhelm spoke of Russell, Wilhelm's mentally challenged brother, who was especially close to him. David Wilhelm planned to become his guardian when his parents grew too old to care for him, Allison Wilhelm said.
Candee Wilhelm said she was adopted, and her husband helped her through the difficult process of locating her birth mother. The woman died in 2006, she said, but "in a way, she was a gift from David."
She remembered looking at her husband's body in the funeral home. "As I stood there looking at this handsome man, bruised and battered from his murder, I remember thinking, 'This isn't my husband.' I touched his hand, his arm, his leg. David wasn't there anymore. I touched his hair. It was the only thing that really seemed familiar and real to me."
Teasley's widow, Deborah, told jurors she had thought of the courthouse as a "safe haven" for her husband.
"I hate to think that he was dying outside on the street," she said of her husband. "But the truth is, he was."
She said her husband "was and still is our hero. He was the love of my life, my husband and my friend."
Deona Teasley said she was in the third grade when her father died.
"Why did someone do this to such a good person?" she asked. "He didn't deserve to die. He did not do anything wrong. ... We meant the world to him, and he meant the world to us."
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