Prospective jurors sworn in for state trial against Terry Nichols

Monday, February 23rd 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ More than 350 people were sworn in Monday as potential jurors in the trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols on murder charges that could send him to death row.

Nichols, 48, is serving a life sentence on federal charges for the deaths of eight federal law officers in the April 19, 1995, bombing. The state charges involve the 160 other victims and the unborn child of one of those killed.

The jury orientation for 357 people was conducted under heavy security in a school auditorium a few blocks from the courthouse.

State District Judge Steven Taylor said the trial could be long and create personal hardships for jurors. Nichols, his attorneys and prosecutors were present at the orientation session.

Jury selection, expected to take two weeks, begins March 1. The trial is expected to last three to six months.

Nichols was at his home in Herington, Kan., the day the federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up. But prosecutors allege that he and Timothy McVeigh worked side by side to build the 4,000-pound bomb of fuel oil and fertilizer.

McVeigh was convicted on federal murder charges and executed in 2001.

Defense attorneys have said that Nichols cannot receive a fair trial anywhere in Oklahoma because of publicity about the case and his federal conviction.

Judge Steven Taylor moved the trial from Oklahoma City to McAlester, 130 miles away.