Judge To Consider New Delay in Nichols' Preliminary Hearing

Monday, October 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(OKLAHOMA CITY) - A dispute over funding for bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' defense attorneys could force another delay in Nichols' preliminary hearing, now scheduled for next month.

The dispute will be aired Monday before a state judge who is presiding over pre-trial issues in the case.

State prosecutors have filed 160 counts of first-degree murder against Nichols, 46, for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The blast killed 168 people, injured more than 500 and caused major property damage in downtown Oklahoma City.

Earlier this month, state District Judge Ray Dean Linder scheduled Nichols' preliminary hearing for Nov. 5-21. Linder also scheduled hearings Oct. 29-30 to resolve any outstanding legal issues.

But Nichols' defense lawyers want the November hearing delayed because of a dispute over their funding.

Another judge in June ruled the defense team is limited by a 1999 contract to $1.8 million.

But defense attorneys complain that their contract is ambiguous and unfair because the case has taken longer than expected. The Oklahoma Supreme Court is considering the dispute.

Defense attorneys in July asked to withdraw from the case if they don't get additional money. Only $148,365 is left.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals already has rejected Nichols' complaints that his constitutional rights are being violated by the state case. Nichols' attorneys plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to bar a state trial.

A federal jury in Denver convicted Nichols of the conspiracy to bomb the building and of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents. The state murder counts are for the 160 others who died.