Judge expands gag order in Terry Nichols' case

Wednesday, November 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- The judge overseeing bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' state trial has expanded a gag order to prevent more publicity about the case.

District Judge Steven Taylor's gag order now includes the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Department, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and McAlester police and fire departments.

The order previously barred attorneys involved in the case from talking to the media.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he would consider turning over custody of Nichols to Pittsburg County Sheriff Jerome "Snookie" Amaranto during the trial.

Oklahoma County otherwise would have to pay to house deputies in McAlester.

"It would be a whole lot easier on us because of the manpower it would take 150 miles away," Whetsel said. "If someone wants to talk about it, we'll be open to the possibility."

Nichols' trial on 161 counts of first-degree murder is scheduled to being March 1 at the Pittsburg County Courthouse. The charges are for the 160 civilians and one fetus killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Nichols was convicted in federal court for conspiracy in the deaths of eight federal agents and is serving a life sentence without parole.

State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Nichols is expected to be transported to McAlester in January for pretrial hearings.