Testimony links Nichols to McVeigh in bombing plans Prosecution witness awaits sentencing in plea deal

November 13, 1997|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

DENVER -- The government's pivotal informant in the Oklahoma City bombing case -- Michael Fortier -- testified yesterday that convicted bomber Timothy J. McVeigh dropped hints that Terry L. Nichols conspired with McVeigh to blow up a federal office building.

Specifically, Fortier testified that McVeigh wrote him and told him that he and Nichols were planning a "positive offensive action" against the government after the FBI's raid on a religious cult near Waco, Texas, in 1993.

For the 28-year-old Fortier, it was his second time as a government witness in the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Earlier this year, he was the government's chief witness against McVeigh in a trial that resulted in McVeigh's conviction and sentence of death.

Yesterday, Fortier testified for only 45 minutes. The Kingman, Ariz., man is to return to the witness stand today.

Fortier befriended Nichols and McVeigh in the late 1980s when all three men served in the Army.

Sometime after August 1994, Fortier said, he received a letter from McVeigh, "asking me if I would help him and Terry in taking some type of action. I believe it said they were going to take a positive offensive action."

McVeigh also urged Fortier to join their effort, and Fortier said he refused, but wrote back, saying, "I was curious about what he was talking about."

Soon afterward, he said, McVeigh "showed up at my house" and they further discussed McVeigh's plans during a conversation in Fortier's front yard.

"He told me that what he meant by taking action was that they were planning on bombing a building," Fortier said.

But Fortier said McVeigh "didn't say specifically" who he meant by "they." "He just asked me if I wanted to be a part of it," Fortier said. "I said no."

Several weeks later, Fortier testified, he accompanied Nichols and McVeigh to a Kingman-area storage locker, where they showed him a box of explosives.

Fortier said, "Tim or Terry opened the locks, I'm not sure which, and we got in and Tim showed me some explosives."

He said Nichols "was going from the storage locker to his truck and back and forth. He was loading stuff into his truck."

Fortier pleaded guilty two years ago to four federal charges involving the bombing. As part of his agreement to testify in the two trials, Fortier said the government has promised "they would bring no further charges against me."

Pub Date: 11/13/97

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