Forewoman of Nichols jury is critical of government Nurse says she glimpsed emotions behind bombing

January 08, 1998|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

DENVER -- The government "did not do a very good job" of proving Terry L. Nichols was a major player in the Oklahoma City bombing, jury forewoman Niki Deutchman said, explaining why jurors failed to agree on a punishment.

"People see things differently," another juror, Holly Hanlin, said. "And what is black and white to this person is simply gray to others."

Deutchman said Nichols' defense team convinced her that other, unknown individuals were involved in the 1995 bombing and that the government has not vigorously pursued them.

"I think that there are probably other people out there," she said. "I think the government dropped the ball."

Deutchman, an obstetric nurse, criticized the FBI's investigation, saying at key junctures it appeared "sloppy." She said jurors were troubled that agents' interviews in the case, including a nine-plus-hour interrogation of Nichols two days after the bombing, were not tape-recorded.

She found the government's conduct during the investigation so "arrogant," she said, that she even gained some understanding of the distrust and frustration that gave rise to the bombing itself.

"I think maybe it's time for the government to be more respectful," she said.

The other five women and five men on the jury either could not be located or declined to be interviewed yesterday.

Both Hanlin and Deutchman declined to say how many jurors had favored each of the punishment options open to them: death, life in prison or allowing U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch to choose the penalty.

"There wasn't anybody that caused this, not one person," Hanlin said. "It wasn't like that at all."

Deutchman said most jurors felt Nichols knew "something big and bad and destructive" was going to happen.

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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