Judge says 'no' to TV cameras in courtroom for Terry Nichols' trial

Tuesday, January 27th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ No cameras will be allowed in or near the courtroom where Terry Nichols will be tried on 161 counts of murder for the Oklahoma City bombing, a state judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Steven Taylor ruled that state law prohibits the televising of state court proceedings when the defendant objects.

Nichols does not want cameras in the courtroom and objects to the proceedings being televised, said his attorney, Brian Hermanson.

Prosecutors also asked the judge to reject the media requests for cameras in the courtroom, noting that a similar request to televise Nichols' preliminary hearing was rejected by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Taylor also prohibited cameras on the second floor of the Pittsburg County Courthouse, where the trial will be conducted. He also ruled that cellular telephones, laptop computers and still cameras will not be permitted inside the courtroom.

Taylor said cameras and other equipment needed by journalists covering the trial will be allowed on the first floor and on the courtyards and sidewalks outside.

Court TV and other media outlets have filed motions to televise Nichols' trial, scheduled to begin on March 1, or to place cameras outside the courtroom and shoot the proceedings through the windows of the courtroom doors.

Nichols' attorneys said that to allow cameras in the courtroom over Nichols' objections would violate his right to a fair trial.

Nichols was bound over for trial on 161 counts of first-degree murder following the preliminary hearing in May. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Nichols, 48, faces the state murder trial for his role in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which killed 168 people.

A federal jury in Denver convicted Nichols in December 1997 of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement agents. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

The state charges involve the 160 other victims and the fetus of one victim.

Nichols has been in the Oklahoma County Jail since he was brought to the state from a federal prison in Colorado four years ago.

Nichols is scheduled to be transferred next month to Pittsburg County in southeastern Oklahoma, where Taylor moved the trial because of extensive pretrial publicity.