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Terry Nichols' Judge Warns Prosecutors About Not Turning Over Documents

Jury selection began today in the state trial of Terry Nichols. Oklahoma is seeking the death penalty against him. The Judge denied the latest defense request for a continuance based on news that the FBI had not turned over all documents regarding other suspects, however, he gave the prosecution a stern warning:

"This case is going to trial today because this court has been assured" by state prosecutors and federal officials that they have turned over to the defense all relevant documents, Taylor said. Should that prove to be false, the judge said, "There will not be a mistrial. There will be a dismissal of this case."

Given the repeated failure of the FBI to get its act together regarding the documents in this case, our money is on a dismissal.

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Oklahoma City: The Conspiracists' Theory

More from Dave Neiwart of Orcinus, this time on the recent revelations in the Oklahoma City bombing case. Neiwert outlines the conspiracists' theory that white supremacist bank robbers and others were involved in the OKC bombing.

Most notably, it was the entire subject of Mark S. Hamm's book In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground, published in 2002. According to Hamm, four cells of the ARA were involved. In Hamm's report, the first cell comprised "the bomb builders" -- Steven Colbern, Dennis Malzac, and a third "phantom bomb builder" -- while McVeigh, Nichols, and Michael Fortier constituted the second cell, whose role was "to plan and develop a strategy for the bombing." A third cell for "information, training, weapons, and logistical support" was led by Andreas Strassmier. It also included Denis Mahon and a Elohim City resident, Michael Brescia, whom some have fingered as John Doe No. 2. The fourth and final cell was in charge of financing, which, like The Order in 1984, was largely the product of bank robberies. This was the public ARA, led by Peter Langan, and included Brescia, as well as four others: Richard Guthrie, Kevin McCarthy, Scott Stedeford, and a Posse Comitatus leader, Mark Thomas. All of these ARA participants are either dead (Guthrie committed suicide) or behind bars, except Brescia and Thomas, who both served time and are free now.

Like David, we find the theory wanting in several respects. Nonetheless, it's good that the investigation is being re-opened--provided it's a real one and not just a "going through the motions" type one.

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Death Row Inmate to Testify at Terry Nichols' Trial

Over objections by the prosecution, the Judge in Terry Nichols' state trial will allow death row inmate David Hammer to testify at Nichols' trial. The prosecutors argued Hammer is not a credible witness:

Hammer spent time with McVeigh on federal death row before McVeigh was executed in 2001. Hammer claims McVeigh gave him the identities of coconspirators including John Doe 2, a mystery man some claim to have seen with McVeigh on the day of the bombing, defense attorney Mark Earnest said.

Nichols' attorneys contend Nichols was set up by unknown coconspirators involved with McVeigh in the plot to bomb the building. Hammer's testimony was bitterly opposed by prosecutors, who described Hammer as "one of the least credible sources ever to serve time" in an Oklahoma prison. Assistant District Attorney Lou Keel said Hammer once threatened to kill him and a judge and blow up the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

Hammer is on federal death row for the 1996 murder of his cellmate, Andrew Marti, at the Allenwood Federal Penitentiary outside Williamsport, Pa.

Hammer has co-written a book with another death row inmate about what McVeigh allegedly told him, due out this month. It's titled "Secrets Worth Dying For" and is described as containing "details of being on death row with Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy James McVeigh and revelations about others involved in the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City."

David Paul Hammer #24507-077 is on Death Row in Terre Haute, Indiana. His execution is now scheduled for June, 2004. Mr. Hammer's website is here. The Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty offers free websites to death row prisoners.

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OKC Bombing and ARA Bank Robbers

Here are some interesting pictures:

Michael Brescia

This is still our favorite though:

John Doe 2 and "Dirty Bomb" Suspect Jose Padilla.

More on the Aryan Republican Army (ARA) is here.

Note: We are not vouching for the accuracy of these internet photos and news reports, just pointing them out.

[comments now closed]

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FBI Suspected McVeigh Had Help from Supremacist Bank Robbers in OKC Bombing

This is news. The Associated Press reports that one unit of the FBI had information that McVeigh sought help from a group of white supremacist bank robbers days before the Oklahoma City Bombing, and failed to share the information with the FBI unit investigating the bombing:

The FBI believed Timothy McVeigh tried to recruit additional help in the days before the deadly 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and gathered evidence that white supremacist bank robbers may have become involved, according to government documents never introduced at McVeigh's trial.

The retired FBI chief of the Oklahoma City investigation, Dan Defenbaugh, said he was unaware of some evidence obtained by The Associated Press and that the investigation should be reopened to determine whether the robbery gang was linked to McVeigh.

The evidence never shared with Defenbaugh's investigators or defense lawyers includes documents showing the Aryan Republican Army bank robbers possessed explosive blasting caps similar to those McVeigh stole and a driver's license with the name of a central player who was robbed in the Oklahoma City plot.

Does this mean others were involved?

McVeigh's ex-lawyer said the evidence obtained by the AP is the strongest to date to show what he has argued for years -- that the bombing conspiracy may have involved more people than McVeigh and Nichols.

"I think these pieces close the circle, and they clearly show the bombing conspiracy consisted probably of 10 conspirators," attorney Stephen Jones said. "They (government officials) simply turned their backs on a group of people for which there is credible evidence suggesting they were involved in the murder of 160 people."

Some of the original documents cited in the article are available here.

You can read more from older news articles here and here.

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Court: Terry Nichols May Present Evidence of Wider Conspiracy

This could be good news for the Terry Nichols defense team. The judge has ruled that he may present evidence of a wider conspiracy in the Oklahoma bombing if he can back it up with specific overt acts.

Mr. Nichols is going to be allowed to present his defense," Taylor said, ruling that prosecution motions to prevent Nichols from presenting evidence of other bombing suspects were premature.

Defense attorney Mark A. Earnest said Nichols' defense team does not plan to offer the names of other conspirators. He said the defense wants to present circumstantial evidence that Timothy McVeigh conspired with others, possibly members of the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist group with anti-government views, to bomb the P. Murrah Federal Building. Defense attorneys say the conspiracy was set up to cast blame on Nichols and shield other conspirators.

If Nichols can establish others were involved with McVeigh, the jury might believe he had a lesser role, warranting a life sentence instead of death. The federal jury that convicted him gave him a life sentence. We still don't see how he can get a fair trial anywhere in Oklahoma, particularly in McAlester, a town filled with prison guards and munitions factory workers, but nonetheless, this is a crumb for the defense.

More than 350 potential jurors were sworn in yesterday. Jury selection (voir dire) begins March 1.

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Terry Nichols' State Trial

We are headed back to Denver and very grateful to TChris for all his great posts this weekend. We'll be back after the finale of Sex and the City tonight. (Our prediction: Carrie will come back to the U.S. with Big but refuse to marry him.) In other news, Terry Nichols' retrial in Oklahoma is set to begin March 1. It is in McAlester, Oklahoma--home of Oklahoma's death row, munitions factory and prison system. That speaks volumes about the potential jury pool.

Nichols' has offered to plead guilty and take a life sentence, but that's not good enough for those who want him dead. A recent poll of Oklahomans shows that most of them do not want this trial.

A recent Tulsa World poll found that 70 percent of Oklahomans feel the expense of a state trial is unnecessary since Nichols is already serving a life sentence. An earlier poll, for The Oklahoman, found a majority of state residents would prefer a plea bargain to a trial.

Not even the families of the victims are in accord on the issue:

Jim Denny makes an unlikely advocate for Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols. His two children still suffer from injuries received when the explosion ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
For his role in the terrorist attack, Mr. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But on March 1, he will face a new trial on state murder charges - and nearly nine years after the bombing, many Oklahomans say enough is enough.

"The federal government did a great job trying both McVeigh and Nichols," says Mr. Denny from his home in Oklahoma City. "But this state trial is the biggest waste of money and waste of time. There comes a time when we have to let go." Denny is not alone. In a recent poll sponsored by the Tulsa World, 70 percent of those surveyed opposed a state trial, which has already cost taxpayers $4 million. The resistance isn't just about money, say mental-health experts; it's about progress, and a sign that Oklahoma is healing.

We will be following this trial closely when it begins.

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Terry Nichols: New Charges for Death of Fetuses

A judge today allowed prosecutors to add two more counts of murder to the 160 counts pending against Terry Nichols, for the death of two fetuses. We hope abortion rights supporters jump all over this as it's surely another sign of the attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A state judge who ordered Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols to stand trial on 160 murder charges added two new murder counts Wednesday for unborn babies whose mothers died in the blast.

These fetuses were 26 - 28 and 32 weeks old, respectively.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided last year that fetuses are viable at the gestation of 24 weeks and that their unnatural deaths can be charged as first-degree murder.

This is judicial activism at work. If you care about this issue, urge the Democrats in the Senate to keep filibustering. Otherwise, the right to choose is in danger of becoming a relic of the past.

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