Virginia man asks for property seized from home to be returned

Wednesday, February 4th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A former congressional aide wants items seized from his Virginia home as part of the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing to be returned.

In a motion filed Tuesday, John Culbertson asked an Oklahoma County judge to quash the search warrant used Friday to confiscate property from his Centreville, Va., residence.

Culbertson, 45, and his employer, the Arkansas Chronicle, say investigator Mark Easley prepared a ``highly misleading affidavit'' filed in Fairfax County court to obtain the warrant.

``At the time of the filing of the affidavit, Easley knew or should have reasonably known of the materially misleading nature of the document'' and that it ``contained serious and intentional material omissions of fact, which, in effect, constituted fraud,'' according to the motion.

Seizure of the property from Culbertson's home, which also is his office, effectively closing the newspaper's Washington Bureau, the motion states.

Culbertson said Easley sought a video or computer images that allegedly show a Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building shortly before the April 19, 1995, blast.

He said he told Easley he didn't have the items.

Culbertson also said he was unsure what impact the video would have on the trial of bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, who goes on trial March 1 on 161 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the blast, which killed 168.

In an affidavit, Easley wrote that the issue arose during a Jan. 27 closed hearing with District Judge Steven Taylor, who is overseeing the case.

``The defense advised the prosecution ... that Mr. Culbertson may have possession of a video and or still photographs of a Ryder truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building before the explosion and during the explosion,'' the affidavit states.

Defense attorneys said Culbertson wasn't cooperative in showing them the possible evidence, according to the affidavit. Taylor asked them to provide the information to the prosecution, the affidavit stated.

Culbertson said he hasn't seen a video of the explosion but had heard of it ``from a federal police officer in Washington who claimed to have seen the video in a terrorism training seminar.''

The computer images depict a ``fire ball'' but ``you can't say for certain'' it is from the explosion, he said.

The material was given to the House Judiciary Committee, Culbertson said.