Nichols' attorneys seek more witnesses to question


Saturday, October 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


A former Justice Department inspector general who was critical of the FBI's crime laboratory is among the witnesses bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' attorneys want to question.

Defense lawyers filed a request on Friday to question 100 more federal witnesses in advance of Nichols' March 1 state trial in McAlester.

Most of the witnesses are FBI agents who did interviews or gathered evidence after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Also included on the list is Michael Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector general whose report on the FBI's crime lab led to reforms.

Presiding Judge Steven Taylor has approved defense attorneys' questioning of about 50 former and current federal employees. Taylor will take up the new requests next week.

Prosecutors argue that much of the questioning is unnecessary since defense attorneys have the FBI agents' reports.

Taylor has complained that the federal government isn't cooperating enough in expediting the interviews that already are approved.

He has threatened to sanction Oklahoma County prosecutors handling the case by throwing out the death penalty as a punishment option or dismissing the case if the defense interviews aren't finished by Feb. 6.

The judge also has said he might bar certain federal witnesses from testifying for the prosecution.

"There is going to be a fair trial in this case, or there will be no trial at all," the judge said Oct. 14.

A federal jury in Denver convicted Nichols of the bombing conspiracy and the involuntary manslaughter of eight federal agents.

His state case focuses on the 160 others who died as a result of the attack, as well as the loss of a victim's fetus.

His co-defendant, Timothy McVeigh, was convicted by a federal jury in Denver of murder and weapons counts and sentenced to death. McVeigh was executed in 2001.