Always more to the story, part one

The story of the Atlanta woman who talked the escaped killer into turning himself in by talking about God and the Purpose-Driven Life inspired a lot of pious commentary at the time:

So, before the SWAT team surrounded the apartment complex with guns, Smith had defused the situation with love. In fact, when Nichols left her, untied, with ready access to guns, and when Smith followed Nichols in her own car while he ditched his stolen truck, Smith declined to take the opportunity to free herself. Instead she hoped to convince Nichols to turn himself in without hurting anyone else. “For a country used to getting things done with overwhelming force, it was a humbling lesson in Peacemaking 101,” writes the Monitor.

Well, as it turns out, the story’s a little more complicated:

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

Smith did not share that detail with authorities at the time. But investigators said she came clean about the drugs when they interviewed her months later. They said they have no plans to charge her with drug possession.

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

Smith, a 27-year-old widowed mother who gained widespread praise for her level-headedness, says the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict, and she says she has not used drugs since the night before she was taken captive.

“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.

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She writes that she asked Nichols if he wanted to see the danger of drugs and lifted up her tank top several inches to reveal a five-inch scar down the center of her torso _ the aftermath of a car wreck caused by drug-induced psychosis. She says she let go of the steering wheel when she heard a voice saying, “Let go and let God.”