District Judge Steven W. Taylor of
McAlester was assigned Tuesday to preside over bombing conspirator
Terry Nichols' state murder trial if a trial is ordered.
"If this is bound over for trial, the mission will be to
conduct a fair trial before a fair and impartial jury," Taylor
said. "I will accept that mission and do my best to see that it is
Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Hardy Summers filed an
order Tuesday appointing Taylor, the judge for Pittsburg and
McIntosh counties, to handle the case.
Taylor said he didn't volunteer for the assignment.
"The chief justice of the Supreme Court traveled to McAlester
and personally asked me to take this case. I did not say `no' to
the chief justice," Taylor said."He has placed his confidence in
me and I will accept this duty and do the best judicial work I
Taylor would handle the case should the judge presiding over the
preliminary hearing rule that there is sufficient evidence to order
Nichols to stand trial on 160 counts of first-degree murder in the
April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
No date has been set for the preliminary hearing.
Nichols, 44, is serving a life sentence in federal prison on his
convictions of conspiracy and eight counts of involuntary
manslaughter in the case. The involuntary manslaughter counts
involve the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the
Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy filed the state
charges in March.
Oklahoma County District Judge Dan Owens asked the state Supreme
Court to appoint someone from outside the county to avoid "the
appearance of impropriety."
In addition to the murder charges representing the 160 victims
not specifically named in the federal charges, Nichols also faces
first-degree manslaughter for the death of an unborn child whose
mother died in the bombing, one count of conspiracy to commit
murder and one count of aiding and counseling in the placing of a
substance or bomb near a public building.
The bomb destroyed the nine-story federal building, killed 168
people and injured more than 500 others.
Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the bombing and the
deaths of the eight officers.
Associate District Judge Robert M. Murphy of Payne County is
handling the preliminary hearing for Nichols.
Taylor said Summers assured him that his regular dockets in
Pittsburg and McIntosh counties would be covered by visiting or
senior judges while he is handling the Nichols case.