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Cost of Terry Nichols' Trial

The citizens of Oklahoma shelled out more than $5.2 million to try and kill Terry Nichols:

The final costs of Terry Nichols' state case will exceed $5.2
million. More than $3.75 million has already been paid on his defense since 1999, records show. Another $115,361 in defense bills for May is being processed. The defense costs includes the salaries of six court-appointed attorneys, their investigators and other staff. It also includes overhead, housing expenses, a jury consultant's fee, a public opinion survey and expert witness fees. The latest expenses in May include the cost of motel rooms for defense
witnesses.

The security costs for the trial and for Nichols' stay in McAlester were $288,355 through May, records show. Guards watched the Pittsburg County Courthouse around the clock. Nichols is held at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Jury costs so far exceed $67,400. Much of that was spent for jury selectionon the hundreds of candidates who were summoned for jury duty. Jurors are paid $20 a day plus mileage.

Update: The jurors speak.

Update: Teflon Terry Nichols

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Terry Nichols' Jurors Deadlocked: No Death Penalty

Update: Terry Nichols' jury is deadlocked and he will be spared the death penalty. Our congrats go to Nichols' outstanding defense team, which included NACDL Vice President, Barbara Bergman.

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Original post:

After 17 hours of deliberations, the Terry Nichols' jury told the judge they are divided on whether he should get the death penalty. They are continuing to deliberate, but the foreman said some jurors have some "deeply held beliefs." If there is no unanimity, Nichols' will get a life sentence.

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Defense Closes in Terry Nichols' Death Penalty Trial

Closing arguments continue in Terry Nichols' state murder trial. He has been convicted of 161 counts of murder. The jury will decide whether he should be sentenced to life or death.

Defense attorney Barbara Bergman said Nichols has made mistakes in his life, but his role in the bombing merits a life sentence instead of death. "You must now decide do you kill Terry Nichols," Bergman told the jury of six men and six women on Tuesday. "He is a person with a heart and a soul, and a person whose life is worth saving."

Bergman became emotional during her argument. She said a death penalty for Nichols would mean guards will someday "take him out of his cell, strap him to a gurney and put poison in his veins." Defense witnesses presented photographs during the sentencing trial that showed Nichols with his three children - Joshua, 21, Nicole, 10, and Christian, 8. Others said they correspond with him about the Bible and religious issues. "He is a person who values and is valued by other people," Bergman said.

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Terry Nichols' Jury is Out of Alternates

Terry Nichols's defense begins its presentation in the death penalty phase of his trial. Here's an interesting factoid: There are no more alternate jurors.

That's right. No more. So if one juror gets sick, Terry Nichols jury can't finish deliberations. Mistrial as to the sentencing. The matter goes to the judge, and under Oklahoma law, he has to impose a life sentence. Question: What's to prevent one juror, who wanted to make sure Nichols' got a life sentence, from just calling in sick?

All those millions spent prosecuting a man already serving a life sentence would be down the drain. For those of us opposed to the death penalty, we can't think of a more fitting ending.

Some legal eagles have suggested that the Judge could convene a second jury and retry the sentencing. We disagree. But even if it were legally possible, we don't see it. This judge has had enough. He's not going through this again.

Update: A commenter thought we were advocating that a juror pretend to be sick. We were not. That would be a fraud upon the court. Our comment about a fitting ending related to the possibility that a juror might really get sick and be prevented from deliberating.

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Terry Nichols Convicted on All Counts

Bump and Update: Terry Nichols has been convicted of 161 counts of first degree murder, conspiracy and arson. The jury deliberated only four hours. He will now face a death penalty proceeding before the same jury. We'll be talking about it on MSNBC's Abrams Report today (6 pm ET) . (Correction: Big news in Kobe Bryant case, our Nichols segment is cancelled and we'll be talking about Kobe instead. )

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Original Post

Bump and Update: The defense closed today in the Terry Nichols trial. Defense Attorney Barbara Bergman attacked the Government's case:

"This is a case about manipulation, betrayal and overreaching," Bergman said. "People who are still unknown assisted Timothy McVeigh."....Bergman reminded jurors of dozens of witnesses who testified they saw McVeigh with others, including a stocky, dark-haired man depicted in an FBI sketch and known only as John Doe No. 2, in the weeks before the bombing. Witnesses said the others did not resemble Nichols.

"The state has jumped over a lot of holes in the case. The state has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and they haven't." Bergman attacked scientific evidence presented by prosecutors during 29 days of testimony. The evidence included the discovery of ammonium nitrate crystals on a piece of plywood that was part of the Ryder truck that delivered the bomb.

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Judge Allows Consideration of Death Penalty for Terry Nichols

The Judge in the OKC bombing trial of Terry Nichols ruled today that the jury may consider the death penalty as to the 160 non-federal employees killed in the bombing, but not as to the fetus that died with it's mother. Although in 2002 an Oklahoma appellate court upheld a law stating that fetuses are viable at 24 weeks and that their unnatural deaths can be charged as first-degree murder, the Court today found that the state did not give adequate notice to Nichols of its intent to seek the death penalty on the fetus.

Nichols was acquitted on first degree murder charges at his federal trial in 1997, but found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy to murder the 8 federal officers and given a life sentence. There is no parole in the federal system. In the state case, the jury will not be allowed to consider lesser charges. It's either first degree murder or innocent.

On Friday, Taylor ruled that Nichols' jury will not consider less serious charges when they decide Nichols' guilt or innocence in the bombing case. The ruling limited jurors to two possible verdicts: guilty of first-degree murder or innocent.

Nichols' lawyers have argued in the state trial that:

McVeigh had set up Nichols to take the blame for other, unidentified coconspirators heavily involved in the plot.

Closing arguments are scheduled for today.

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Whistle Blower Says FBI Agent Lied at OKC Bombing Trials

FBI Whistle Blower Frederic Whitehurst testified yesterday for the defense in the Terry Nichols trial, and he said that another agent, Steven Burmeister, lied:

An F.B.I. whistle-blower testified Wednesday at the state murder trial of Terry L. Nichols that a government scientist lied when he said ammonium nitrate crystals found on debris from the Oklahoma City bombing had been embedded by the force of the blast. The whistle-blower, Frederic Whitehurst, testifying for the defense, said an F.B.I. forensic scientist he had trained, Steven Burmeister, also lied when he testified that the crystals came from the kind of fertilizer believed to have been used in the bombing.

Mr. Whitehurst said there was not enough evidence to support either of Mr. Burmeister's conclusions. "He is my student,'' Mr. Whitehurst said. "And I trust him like a brother. But he lied under oath. He lied."

Q-507. Pieces of crystal embedded in a piece of the truck. That was the exhibit introduced at Timothy McVeigh's trial. It was the only piece of direct evidence that linked the bomb to the Ryder truck:

Mr. Whitehurst's testimony focused on a shredded piece of plywood recovered two days after the bombing that the authorities believe came from the cargo container of the Ryder truck that delivered the bomb. The debris, found in a parking lot across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, is the only direct evidence of the explosive used.

Mr. Whitehurst said that he saw the crystals through a microscope after Mr. Burmeister discovered them but that it was impossible to say whether they were embedded or the result of contamination. Mr. Whitehurst said ammonium nitrate could have been in the parking lot for several reasons.

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On John Doe 2 and the Missing Leg

Dave Neiwert of Orcinus has a compelling piece on the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Terry Nichols trial and how quickly America forgets. Lots of stuff on John Doe 2 and the missing leg. Were there others? We don't know, but we question why the Government never seemed to care.

More Neiwart on the conspiracist theory. More from us. Some curious photos.

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Judge Denies Terry Nichols' Motion to Dismiss

The Judge in the Terry Nichols trial has denied his motion to dismiss. The motion, based upon prosecutorial withholding of evidence, was groundless according to the Judge. Secret Service testified there was no videotape showing two persons exiting from the Ryder truck, and her ruled that the other evidence the defense claimed was withheld was not new.

The trial resumed today with the continued testimony of Michael Fortier.

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Gov't. Says OKC Video Tape Does Not Exist

A hearing is ongoing in Terry Nichols' state trial on murder charges over the defense's Motion to Dismiss for withholding of evidence by the prosecution.

Monday, government witnesses testified that the video tape referred to in Secret Service Logs depicting two persons exiting the Ryder truck at the federal building just before the explosion did not exist.

The Judge is expected to rule late today. Background is here and here.

David Neiwert of Orcinus writes today on the Apocalyptic Asymmetry of April 19.

Update: Michael Fortier testified today in Nichols' trial.

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Secret Service Claimed OKC Bomb Video

This is very big news. For background, go here.

Secret Service reports in 1995 state the agency had a video showing the Ryder truck pulling up to the federal building in OKC minutes before the bomb exploded --and that it depicts the "suspects" exiting the vehicle. Up until now, the Government has always claimed McVeigh was alone in the truck. Federal prosecutors and agents say they didn't know about the video.

The article has much more on evidence the Secret Service didn't disclose. If this is true, we hope the Judge in the Terry Nichols trial follows through with his promise to dismiss the case against Nichols, with prejudice.

Today is the 9th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Update: You can view the OKC documents obtained by the AP here (pdf.)

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Terry Nichols' Lawyers Seek Dismissal

Terry Nichols' lawyers asked the court today to dismiss the charges against him, alleging that the Government has withheld critical information. The last time this occurred, the Judge said he would throw out the case if it happened again. He has taken the motion under advisement.

The motion claims prosecutors have withheld a video showing suspects leaving the Ryder rental truck that delivered the bomb just over three minutes before the detonation. No such video has been shown to exist. It also claims prosecutors failed to disclose a phone call McVeigh made to a right-wing enclave in Oklahoma known as Elohim City after he rented the Ryder truck. Allegations have surfaced over the years that McVeigh might have received help from people living there.

The motion also says prosecutors did not provide defense attorneys with documents disclosed in a series of Associated Press stories raising the possibility of additional accomplices in the bombing. Those documents included two 1990s teletypes from then-FBI Director Louis Freeh's office citing possible connections between McVeigh and a gang of white supremacist bank robbers.

A video showing suspects leaving the Ryder rental truck that delivered the bomb just over three minutes before the detonation? That's news to us, and if it exists, that would be powerful, new evidence.

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Inmate to Testify Terry Nichols Didn't Help Build Bomb

Death row inmate David Paul Hammer plans to testify at Terry Nichols' trial that while Hammer and Timothy McVeigh were in nearby cells on death row, McVeigh told him that Nichols refused to help build the bomb--and that the bomb was built in an Oklahoma warehouse and not in Kansas. The prosecution says Hammer is not a credible witness. He is scheduled to be executed June 8 for killing a cellmate. More on Hammer and his upcoming book can be found here.

The jury has been seated. Opening arguments are set for March 22.

Nichols' attorneys plan to argue that McVeigh framed him to shield the real accomplices in the bombing. The attorneys have said Hammer will tell jurors that McVeigh revealed who else was involved in the 1995 attack, including the identity of a second person believed to have been with McVeigh on the day of the bombing. Hammer told the newspaper the second person was a member of the Aryan Republican Army, a gang of white supremacist bank robbers.

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Terry Nichols' Jury Chosen

In only 9 days, a jury has been seated for the Oklahoma murder trial of Terry Nichols. We find this shocking. Even with a change of venue to Denver, and a trial in federal court-- which is known for limited voir dire as compared to that allowed by state courts-- jury selection lasted a month in Terry Nichols' case and three weeks in the case of Timothy McVeigh.

With so much prejudice against Nichols in Oklahoma, the short jury selection process--with most of the questioning done by the judge--gives us very little confidence that this will be a fair trial.

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Terry Nichols' Juror Reports Others Lying to Get on Jury

Jury selection continues in the Terry Nichols trial. A potential juror yesterday told the Judge she heard 4 or 5 other potential jurors saying they intended to lie to get on the jury and convict Nichols. The Judge refused a defense motion for a mistrial. None of those jurors made it through the initial phase.

Still, if there were 4 or 5 who said it aloud, how many more were thinking the same thing? How many others were swayed by the remarks?

More details are here.

A potential juror revealed Tuesday that she overheard three or four others talk about lying to get on the jury so they could convict Terry Nichols. "I had to tell them right offhand that's not what we're here for," she told the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys. "We took an oath to be fair and impartial, and this whole time they're lying. That's wrong."

Judge Steven Taylor refused a defense request for a mistrial because of the revelation but promised to "deal with this."

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