Terry Nichols' attorney still weighing appeal options

Monday, July 12th 2004, 5:56 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- The attorney working on convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' defense said he's hasn't decided if he will appeal Nichols' convictions.

Nichols was convicted last month of 161 counts of first-degree murder, along with counts of conspiracy and arson for his role in the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Jurors deadlock on whether to sentence Nichols to life in prison or give him the death penalty.

Because of the deadlock, District Judge Steven Taylor will sentence Nichols on Aug. 9. He could sentence Nichols with life in prison or life without parole.

Nichols is already serving a federal sentence of life without parole for convictions including conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents.

Nichols' attorneys have up to 10 days after the sentencing to file their appeals, said attorney Brian Hermanson.

If they decide to appeal and it is successful, Nichols could get a new trial and the death penalty could again be an option.

"We analyze and look at everything we can to make as informed of a decision as we can," Hermanson told the McAlester News-Capital & Democrat.

Hermanson, who will soon be leaving McAlester and heading back to Ponca City.

Hermanson acknowledged that he didn't know at first how McAlester residents would react to the defense attorneys when the trial started.

"We didn't know what to expect," Hermanson said. "Many people had strong feelings and we didn't know how people would treat us."

Regardless of how McAlester-area residents felt about the Oklahoma City bombing, they didn't transfer those feelings to the attorneys, Hermanson said.

"They treated us well," Hermanson said.

Before the trial began, the defense hired a pollster to gauge the feelings of McAlester residents.

"The poll showed that most people in Pittsburg County favored the death penalty, in some cases more than people in Oklahoma County, where the bombing occurred. I can't explain it," Hermanson said.

Hermanson says Nichols conversion to Christianity may have helped his defense and that Nichols' belief in God is sincere.

"You look at the last nine years of Terry's life, he's been a model prisoner," Hermanson said.