Four sites being considered for preliminary hearing

Tuesday, November 2nd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) -- Sites in Guthrie, El Reno, Oklahoma City and Midwest City are being studied as possible locations for the
preliminary hearing for Terry Nichols on state murder charges filed in the federal building bombing.

Cheryl Camp, public information officer for the Administration Office of the Courts, said Tuesday the search for a hearing site is
pending the anticipated request by defense attorneys for a change of venue from Oklahoma County.

Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy charged Nichols, 44, with 160 counts of murder stemming from the April 19, 1995, blast
that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Nichols is serving a life sentence on a federal conviction of conspiracy and
eight counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers killed in the bombing. "What we are looking at is the size of the courtroom, security
issues, accessibility... just looking at all of our needs," Ms. Camp said. They hope to find a site that would not disrupt the dockets of an entire courthouse, she said.

The preliminary hearing presided over by Associate District Judge Robert M. Murphy Jr. will determine whether Nichols is ordered to stand trial on the charges.

The sites under consideration are the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Guthrie, the Oklahoma County Jail, a Midwest City courtroom and
the Canadian County Courthouse in El Reno.
"We are in the preliminary stages of trying to find a courtroom," Ms. Camp said.

Murphy will make the final decision after consulting with prosecutors and defense attorneys. There is no time frame for
selecting a site. Ms. Camp said the judge would announce his selection after finding the best one for the hearing. The preliminary hearing could start as early as March.

"Our problem right now is that we don't know when we would hold it and we don't know when Mr. Nichols would be brought back here," Ms. Camp said. "This is just in the very early stages." One of the major issues in deciding where the hearing will be held
involves security.

"We've got some major security concerns," Logan County Sheriff Craig Platt told the Guthrie News Leader on Monday. "But we're not only talking about security issues, but also parking problems. "When you consider the amount of people who will be attending
this it becomes a major concern. I hear the amount of evidence being brought in is unreal... we're talking truckloads."

Ms. Camp said another issue would be where Nichols would be held. "Whether (Nichols) would be held in the vicinity or transported
back and forth from the Oklahoma County Jail and the site is another question that would have to be answered," she said. "What we want to do is try to make sure Mr. Nichols is safe and also accommodate everyone."