Views mixed over whether to continue with state trial

Thursday, October 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma legislative leaders have mixed feelings about whether to move forward with a state trial for bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

On Monday, Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy was removed from the case. In issuing his order, the presiding judge said Macy's previous comments about Nichols were "a blatant violation of the rules of professional conduct."

Nichols is charged in Oklahoma County with 160 counts of first-degree murder. He was convicted in federal court in Denver and sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter and conspiracy involving the deaths of eight federal agents in the bombing.

The state case will be referred to the office of Attorney General Drew Edmondson for assignment to a new prosecutor.

"I don't know of any other office that could handle it, other than Macy's office, and at this point I don't know whether we should proceed any further," said Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City.

During the spring legislative session, the House defeated a bill that would have provided more funding for the bombing trial.

Oklahoma City-area senators then asked that the case not be tried again, since Nichols was convicted in federal court.

"We have already spent at least over $1 million, if not a couple of million," said Sen. Ben Brown, D-Oklahoma City. He said the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Brown cited a business report card released this week that gave Oklahoma a low grade, in part because of high poverty rates for children who have no health insurance and because of the state's teen pregnancy rate.

"These are areas where this kind of money should be spent," he said.

House Speaker Loyd Benson, an attorney, said the decision on whether to move forward rests with the legal system and a new prosecutor if one is appointed.

House speaker-designate Larry Adair, D-Stilwell, said if victims feel the trial should continue, "I would support that. I do respect the feelings and the wishes of the victims' families in the most tragic event that has happened in this country."

Gov. Frank Keating's position remains unchanged, said Dan Mahoney, the governor's spokesman.

"The decision obviously rests with the attorney general to find someone who might be able to prosecutor," Mahoney said. "The governor will leave it in the hands of the court and the attorney general."