Nichols' attorneys 10th Circuit to re-examine significance of FBI documents

Friday, November 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols has asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to force his trial judge to re-examine the significance of FBI documents the agency admitted it didn't turn over to defense attorneys before his trial.

Nichols' attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year to reconsider Nichols' case in light of the belated disclosure of the files. But the nation's high court in October rejected Nichols' claim that government lawyers failed to turn over material that could have helped him during his 1997 trial.

On Wednesday, Nichols' lawyers asked the Denver appeals court to order U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch to hold a hearing. Matsch in 1999 rejected Nichols' complaints about the FBI tips.

A federal jury convicted Nichols, 46, of conspiring to attack the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and of the involuntary manslaughter of eight federal agents. He was sentenced to life in prison and now faces a murder trial in Oklahoma for the other 160 people who died.

Federal prosecutors argue there is nothing in the documents to support a claim ... ``that Terry Nichols is innocent or that ... (his) sentence is unjust in any way.''

But Nichols argues that his trial judge must look again into the significance of withheld FBI tips in the more than 4,000 pages of bombing documents. His attorneys want the judge to consider the cumulative effect of the tips and documents.

Nichols' attorneys argued they could have used the FBI tips to find witnesses who had seen bomber Timothy McVeigh's true accomplice. But prosecutors said FBI agents looked into legitimate leads and their follow-up reports were given to the defense.

McVeigh was executed June 11 for his role in the April 19, 1995 bombing.