Witness testifies McVeigh told him Nichols didn't want to 'mix bomb'

November 14, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

DENVER -- Several months before the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy J. McVeigh said Terry L. Nichols "no longer wanted to help him mix the bomb," the government's chief witness testified yesterday.

"I asked Tim what he was going to do if Terry didn't help him," said the witness, Michael Fortier. He said McVeigh replied that Nichols would have to help "because he's in it so far up till now."

Nichols is charged with murder and conspiracy in the bombing, which destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people. His co-defendant, McVeigh, was convicted on identical charges in June and sentenced to death.

Nichols' chief lawyer, Michael Tigar, did not question Fortier about that conversation. But Fortier told Tigar that Nichols had never spoken to him about bombing a building.

Tigar sought to depict Fortier as a drug user and a man who would lie to get what he wanted. In more than three hours of cross-examination, Tigar underscored to a federal jury here that Fortier had initially lied to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, bragged to his brother about spinning tales -- "I can tell a fable. I can tell stories all day." -- and lied about his drug use on applications for federal firearms licenses.

Under a plea deal, Fortier is required to cooperate with prosecutors and testify truthfully. He has pleaded guilty to knowing of the plot but not reporting it. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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