OKC bombing victims not prepared to forgive Terry Nichols

Monday, August 9th 2004, 12:28 pm
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Terry Nichols asked for their forgiveness but few relatives of the Oklahoma City bombing victims attending Monday's sentencing were prepared to give it.

``I have no forgiveness for him,'' said Darlene Welch, a Guthrie resident whose 4-year-old niece was among the 168 people who were killed on April 19, 1995. ``I don't feel like it is my duty to forgive him,''

Nichols, who was sentenced to 161 consecutive sentences of life without parole, ends a long series of trips to courthouses for the 15 or so victims and relatives who attended.

But their pain will continue.

``The trial is over, but there will never really be closure because there are reminders every day,'' said Gloria Taylor, who lost her daughter, Teresa Lauderdale.

Many of the victims' relatives said they felt Nichols' statement in court, which described his faith and asked for forgiveness and offered to correspond with them in healing, was genuine.

But Gloria Taylor's husband, John, said Nichols had been ``self-serving'' and he would not correspond with Nichols.

``I'll save my stamp,'' John Taylor said.

Nichols who had pleaded innocent, fell just short of confessing to his role in the bombing.

But Nichols said he wished all Americans would put God in the center of their lives.

``I didn't appreciate being preached to by him,'' Welch said. ``He is a mass murderer. My regret is that he won't stand before God sooner.''

Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was killed in the bombing, said he is pleased with the sentence because he doesn't believe in the death penalty.

``Vengeance has never healed anyone,'' said Welch, who didn't attend the sentencing. ``It's not part of my healing process, and I think that others have since learned that it is not a part of theirs either.''

Welch said the more than $10 million spent on the state trial was ``for nothing.''

``They had already sentenced him with that. And, of course, the money is not the main thing, but the emotional tragedy that this whole thing has brought on the families,'' he said.

Jannie Coverdale, whose grandsons, Elijah and Aaron, were among the 19 children killed in the blast, also was pleased with the sentence.

``That means that he will never walk the streets again. I am satisfied with that. At first, I wanted him to get the death penalty. But, I am satisfied with the life sentence, because we wanted to know the truth,'' said Coverdale, who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone.

``And, if he had gotten the death penalty he may not have told us the names of all those who were involved, and that is what we need. That's what I have been praying for. So, I am satisfied as long he never walks the streets again.''

Marsha Kight, whose daughter, Frankie Merrill, was killed, also was happy that Nichols didn't receive a death sentence, saying ``life in prison is good because people have time to think about what they did.''

``It pleases me that he is taking time to apologize for his actions. I am glad that he is taking responsibility for what he did,'' said Kight, who spoke to The AP by phone from Florida.

``I am glad that he is letting the families write him. That is something that I wanted to do that with Tim McVeigh, but, that was not available to me.''

McVeigh, who parked the rental truck packed with a fuel oil-and-fertilizer bomb in front of the federal building, was convicted on federal murder and conspiracy counts and was sentenced to death. He was executed June 11, 2001.