DA to announce his decision Wednesday on Nichols' state trial

Monday, September 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma County's new district attorney will announce Wednesday whether he will pursue state murder charges against bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

The office of District Attorney Wes Lane issued a fax Monday saying Lane will make his announcement at 2:30 p.m. under the Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Lane, who took over when Bob Macy retired in June, has been considering dismissing the 160 counts of first-degree murder that Macy filed against Nichols in 1999.

Among other things, Lane has expressed concern that resources devoted to prosecuting Nichols have prevented other cases from going to trial.

But Lane said last month that he no longer has the option of dropping the state case and then recharging Nichols if Nichols' federal conviction is overturned.

Nichols, 46, is accused in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. He was convicted at a federal trial in Denver of the bombing conspiracy and of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents.

A sticking point could be the federal-state agreement used to bring Nichols to Oklahoma after his federal conviction.

Before he was transferred to Oklahoma last year, Nichols was serving his sentence in a federal prison in Colorado. He must be returned to federal custody if the state case is dropped.

The ``Interstate Agreement on Detainers'' bars a state from prosecuting a defendant if he is returned to his ``original place of confinement'' before trial.

``It was news to me that this was the manner in which he was brought back,'' Lane said last month. ``That is one of the several factors that I'm considering in making my decision.''

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the ``antishuttling'' provision of the Interstate Agreement was not a technicality. ``It is absolute,'' they wrote.

Nichols' federal conviction was put in doubt in May when the FBI admitted discovering thousands of pages of bombing documents.

Federal prosecutors characterized the documents as immaterial to Nichols' guilt, but said the material should have been turned over to defense attorneys before trial.