Judge rejects defense motions in Nichols case

Wednesday, March 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A judge Wednesday rejected arguments from Michigan native Terry Nichols that state murder charges against him should be dropped because of heavy publicity about both the Oklahoma City bombing and his conviction in federal court.

District Judge Ray Dean Linder said it was premature to rule on whether the pre-trial publicity would prejudice the jurors and left the decision in the hands of the trial judge. No date has been set for the trial.

State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Nichols, 45, who faces 160 charges of first-degree murder. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in federal court of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter.

Last week, Linder refused to dismiss the state charges after Nichols' lawyers argued that it would be unconstitutional to try him in state court because a federal court has already convicted him.

Nichols' federal conviction involved the deaths of eight federal law officers. The state charges cover the 160 other people who died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

Timothy McVeigh was convicted separately of federal murder charges. He is awaiting execution May 16.