MURDER AND CONSPIRACY?
September 29, 1997
Jury selection has begun in the second Oklahoma City bombing trial. Terry Nichols, a friend of convicted killer Timothy McVeigh, is charged with murder and conspiracy. He could face the death penalty. A background report is followed by a legal discussion with a reporter, a former prosecutor, and a defense attorney.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Two days after the April 19, 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, 40-year-old Terry Nicholas, an old army buddy of Timothy McVeigh's, said he was listening to news reports here in his home in Herrington, Kansas, when he heard his name mentioned in connection with the incident. Later that day he went to the Herrington police station to ask why.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
September 29, 1997
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August 26, 1997
Betty Ann Bowser explores how Joseph Hartzler is reacquainting himself.
June 13, 1997:
A Denver jury sentenced Timothy McVeigh to death.
June 11, 1997:
The parents of Timothy McVeigh plead for his life.
June 6, 1997:
Victims' families discuss their reactions to the tragedy.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of law.
CourtTV has transcripts and documents from the case.
The government will try to tie Nichols to Timothy McVeigh.
Nichols, who had held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Michigan, was questioned for nine hours by police and FBI agents. Nichols told them that he was in Oklahoma City with McVeigh three days before the bombing; that he loaned McVeigh his truck the day before the bombing; and that he removed McVeigh's sleeping back and rifle from a storage locker in Herrington the day after the bombing. But, he said, he had no knowledge of the actual bomb plot.
The FBI held Nichols as a material witness, and two weeks later, the government charged him with murder and conspiracy. Based on pre-trial hearings, the prosecution is expected to argue that Nichols was involved with McVeigh for months in planning the bombing. The government is expected to try and tie Nichols to the robbery of an Arkansas gun dealer and argue that money from that robbery was used to finance the bombing. The government may also produce a receipt for sale of a ton of ammonium nitrate, a receipt that was found in Nichols' home, with McVeigh's fingerprint on it. Ammonium nitrate was used to build the bomb. And the prosecution may also try and show that Nichols and McVeigh together built the bomb in the back of a yellow Ryder truck at Geary Lake State Park just 16 miles North of Nichols' home in Herrington.
Nichols lawyer: Michael Tigar.
The lead defense attorney for Nichols is Michael Tigar, a University of Texas law professor. During his career Tigar has represented controversial clients. He was a defense attorney for the Chicago Seven in 1968, and he successfully represented John Demjanjuk, a retired Cleveland auto worker who was accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," an infamous Nazi concentration camp guard. In defending Nichols Tigar is expected to argue that Nichols was at home with his wife and daughter, 240 miles away from Oklahoma City, when the bomb went off; that Nichols was at a military surplus auction in Fort Riley, Kansas, the day prosecutors say the bomb was being built, and that any receipt for the purchase of fertilizer from this Kansas store was for Nichols' military surplus business and not for building a bomb. And Tiger is expected to draw from the testimony of the government's two-star witnesses in the case against Timothy McVeigh. Lori and Michael Fortier told the McVeigh jury that Nichols wanted out of the bombing plot and was not present when McVeigh discussed building the bomb.
MICHAEL TIGAR, Attorney: Terry Nichols was, according to Mrs. Fortier, not present for any conversation about any bombing, not present for any conversation about any illegal activity, not present for any stacking of soup cans, not present for any drawing of diagrams, or anything else remotely connected with the allegations in this case that may have taken place; and then the most significant thing of all; that ten days, or perhaps less, before April 19, 1995, Mr. McVeigh is alleged to have said in a motel in Kingman, Arizona, "Terry Nichols isn't going to be any part of this. Terry Nichols isn't going to help me."
BETTY ANN BOWSER: As in the McVeigh case, nearly 1,000 Colorado residents have been called as potential jurors and, as in the McVeigh trial, selection of a jury is expected to take several weeks.