Nichols lawyer argues for resentencing

Tuesday, February 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Lawyers for Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols asked an appeals court Tuesday to reverse his conviction, or at least allow Nichols to be resentenced.

Nichols is serving life in prison on his 1997 conviction of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of eight federal agents in the 1995 bombing, which killed 168 people and injured more than 500.

Attorney John Richilano told a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that before Nichols was sentenced, jurors should have considered whether he knew his actions could lead to deaths.

Richilano also asked the judges for a hearing to examine thousands of documents the FBI failed to release during the trials of Nichols and bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha questioned whether jurors were required to consider Nichols' mental state.

``If there is no requirement, we have no problem,'' she said. ``Aren't we done? What am I missing?''

Richilano contended that since there was a possibility Nichols could have been sentenced to death, jurors should have considered it.

But prosecutor Sean Connelly argued that both of Richilano's arguments were moot. He said a life sentence would still be appropriate if jurors had taken into account Nichols' mental state.

Connelly also said other courts have already denied appeals based on the FBI's late disclosure of documents and lead sheets summarizing longer documents.

McVeigh failed in his effort to delay his execution based on the FBI's belated disclosure but later decided not to appeal further and was executed.

``The lead sheet issue is at an end,'' Connelly said.

The appellate judges were not expected to rule immediately.

Richilano and Connelly were each given 15 minutes to make their arguments, with the judges interrupting with questions.