Judge rejects motion to disqualify himself

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A judge Thursday rejected a prosecutor's request that the judge disqualify himself from presiding over the preliminary hearing for bombing defendant Terry Nichols. The office of Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy is expected to appeal to another judge the decision by Payne County Associate District Judge Robert M. Murphy Jr. Murphy held Thursday that the state's motion to disqualify him was invalid because it was not accompanied by a supporting brief.

The move to seek Murphy's disqualification has pushed the preliminary hearing for Nichols back to Oct. 9 from Aug. 7. Prosecutors have alleged that Murphy has shown bias agains tthem. Murphy also refused to disqualify himself during a secret hearing on June 15 where the allegations were first raised.

The preliminary hearing will decide whether Nichols should go to trial on 160 counts of first-degree murder for the Oklahoma City bombing. Another judge has been chosen to preside over any trial for Nichols. Nichols is accused in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which resulted in 168 deaths. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Nichols, 45, was given life in prison in the federal trial. He was convicted in federal court of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter involving the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the bombing. He also was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.