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Criminal Appeals Court to Decide Whether to Delay Preliminary Hearing for Nichols

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday transferred a request from bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols' attorneys to delay his preliminary hearing to another court.

On Wednesday, defense lawyers had asked the state Supreme Court to put off the court proceeding. But judges with the state's high court decided to give the issue to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to decide.

On Monday, the judge presiding over his preliminary hearing refused to agree to a delay. Testimony is scheduled to begin Nov. 5.

Oklahoma County prosecutors have charged Nichols with 160 counts of first-degree murder in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

A federal jury in Denver convicted Nichols, 46, of the involuntary manslaughter of eight federal agents and conspiracy and sentenced him to life in prison. The 160 counts are for the others who were killed when a bomb destroyed the nine-floor structure and neighboring buildings.

His defense attorneys want the case put on hold until the state Supreme Court decides whether they deserve more money.

A judge ruled in June that the defense team is limited by a 1999 contract to $1.8 million. But defense attorneys complain that their contract is ambiguous and unfair because the case has taken longer than expected.

Defense attorneys in July asked to withdraw from the case if they don't get additional money. Only $148,365 is left.

Nichols was transported to Oklahoma on Jan. 31, 2000, from a federal prison. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled and postponed four times as attorneys wrestled with a variety of issues in the case.

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