Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols asks for new trial Appeal contends judge erred at trial, sentencing

November 22, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Terry L. Nichols has asked the federal appeals court in Denver for a new trial in the Oklahoma City bombing, contending that the federal judge who presided over his case erred at his trial and his sentencing.

In December, a federal court jury in Denver convicted Nichols, 43, a military-surplus dealer, of conspiring with his former Army buddy Timothy J. McVeigh to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building, where 168 people died April 19, 1995.

Nichols was also convicted on eight counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of the eight federal law-enforcement agents killed in the bombing.

In June, Judge Richard Matsch of U.S. District Court in Denver sentenced Nichols to life in prison and ordered him to pay the General Services Administration, which manages federal properties, $14.5 million in restitution for the destruction of the building.

Nichols' lawyers -- Michael Tigar, Susan Foreman and Adam Thurschwell -- filed their brief in the appeals court Thursday.

The judge erred, they contended, when he told the jury that Nichols' responsibility for the deaths of people killed as a result of the bombing conspiracy did not depend on proof that he intended to kill anyone.

An intent to kill, Nichols' lawyers argued, is a necessary element in the offense. The jurors who convicted Nichols of conspiracy acquitted him of blowing up the building and of first- or second-degree murder in the deaths of the officers.

Nichols' lawyers also contended that Nichols should have been sentenced under federal guidelines for arson and property damage, not first-degree murder, and that the order for restitution was punitive and ignored Nichols' inability to pay.

Pub Date: 11/22/98

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