Death Penalty Phase To Begin In Nichols Case


State jurors in McAlester, Ok., agreed yesterday that Terry Nichols is a mass murderer, says The Oklahoman. He was found guilty on all counts, 161 of first-degree murder, one of first-degree arson, and one of conspiracy to commit arson. The verdict came more than nine years after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. “It’s a great day,” said Sharon Davis of Oklahoma City, whose daughter, Kathy Seidl, died in the blast. “Justice is a long time in coming, but it’s here.”

Jurors will return Tuesday to begin the penalty phase. Prosecutors want the death penalty for Nichols, 49. The trial has already lasted 53 days and could take 15 to 20 days more.

Nichols is serving a federal sentence of life without the possibility of release. He was found guilty at his 1997 federal trial of the bombing conspiracy and the involuntary manslaughter of eight federal agents. Jurors at the federal trial could not agree on punishment, a deadlock that spared him from execution then.

Many victims said they want a death sentence. “The Scriptures back me up on this. That any man that intentionally takes a life should pay with his life,” said Davis, whose daughter worked for the U.S. Secret Service.

Nichols never testified. In his federal case, he wrote the judge: “I would not do a horrible thing such as a terrorist bombing and bring shame on not just my family but the family name also. I could not murder innocent men, women and especially children.” His attorneys argued that executed bomber Timothy McVeigh set up Nichols to shield the real accomplices. Defense witnesses told jurors about seeing McVeigh with another man before the explosion.


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