Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole on federal charges. On March 1, he faces a trial on state murder charges. The Christian Science Monitor says that nearly nine years after the bombing, many Oklahomans say enough is enough.
In a recent poll sponsored by the Tulsa World, 70 percent of those surveyed opposed a state trial, which has already cost taxpayers $4 million.
Since the April 19, 1995 blast, many teenagers who lost parents in the blast have graduated from college or begun careers; many parents who lost children have retired or started new families.
“A survivor recently told me, ‘I’ve given them too much of my life and time already and I don’t want to give them any more,’ ” says John Call of Crisis Management Consultants in Oklahoma City. “But there is no lessening of the anger, no forgiveness. We’re not being nice; we’re just being practical.”
The Monitor notes that no one has been held responsible for most lives taken in the blast. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of killing eight federal law officers and was executed in 2001. Nichols was found guilty of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter of those same officers. The other victims were 160 people, including 19 children at a day-care center.
The trial, which could take six months to a year, has been moved to McAlester. A judge ruled that Nichols could not get a fair trial in Oklahoma City. As in the past two trials, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health has set up hot lines and websites for those upset by another trial. Counselors haven’t received any calls. “There just aren’t as many concerns surrounding this particular trial,” says Jeff Dismukes of the Department of Mental Health.
The United Way of Central Oklahoma wrote to 1,800 survivors and relatives, alerting them to a fund that could help them travel to the trial. The $100,000 in aid is left over from money to send victims to Denver for the federal trials, when more than 800 were interested. This time, only 118 are interested; all will be able to attend.
Yesterday, Nichols said he is willing to plead no contest to the state murder case if prosecutors will drop their request for the death penalty, reports the Oklahoman. Prosecutors said that such a plea would be unacceptable.
Nichols’s attorneys said they have “repeatedly sought to end this nightmare by working out a plea agreement that would have ended this case.” Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane said a no contest plea “allows a defendant to be sentenced by a judge without actually admitting that he bears any responsibility for the acts of which he is accused. I think that speaks for itself.”