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Nichols Decision Disappoints Some Families

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Some Oklahoma City bombing survivors and victims' relatives will have to live without the worldly vengeance they sought against conspirator Terry Nichols.

Nichols was spared the death penalty for a second time Friday after the jury deliberating his punishment failed to agree on a sentence.

``This is our system, and we have to go with it,'' said Donnetta Apple, who lost her brother in the April 19, 1995, blast. ``Maybe it will be revealed to us through a higher power why this happened the way it did.''

But the relatives and survivors can take solace that Nichols is now a convicted murderer of hundreds _ not just an inmate convicted of manslaughter for the deaths of eight federal agents.

``Of course, we're disappointed,'' said Darlene Welch, whose 4-year-old niece died in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. ``But our victory comes in that he has been identified as a mass murderer.''

The jury deliberating whether Nichols should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison could not reach a decision Friday after 19 1/2 hours. The same jury took only four hours to convict Nichols May 26.

Judge Steven Taylor will now sentence Nichols, who's already serving a federal life sentence for the lives of the federal agents, on Aug. 9 to life in prison either with or without parole.

Nichols was found guilty of 161 counts of first-degree murder for the 160 other victims and an unborn child in a state trial that has cost more than $4 million to prosecute.

After the jury delivered its final message, several of the dozen or so relatives and survivors who watched the trial shed tears. They remained in the courtroom to watch Nichols be shackled and taken back to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

``I'm an American and we have this system for a reason,'' said Debbie Miller, who was injured in the blast while serving on a federal grand jury. ``I feel like justice has been served.''

But Miller, who suffered a concussion and still has migraine headaches, said she was disappointed by the decision.

Others were shocked by the jury's inability to assign a death sentence in a state that routinely executes about 10 inmates a year.

``He deserved it,'' said Gloria Taylor, who lost daughter Teresa Lauderdale in the bombing, ``for 160 murders of innocent people, men, women and children. What more would it take?''

Relatives were mixed, particularly given the outcome, on whether the state had been wise in bringing Nichols to trial on state charges. It cost about $4 million in state money alone to defend Nichols.

Jim Denny, whose young children Brandon and Rebecca suffered severe injuries in the America's Kids Day Care Center on the Murrah building's second floor, disagreed with efforts to try Nichols in Oklahoma.

``So we spent probably between $5 million and $7 million to get the same thing he (Nichols) already had,'' said Denny, who said he supported the death penalty and was surprised the jury deadlocked.
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