Judge Approves Private Attorney for Nichols, State Will Pay

Tuesday, August 17th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The task of finding an attorney for convicted bomber Terry Nichols begins.
Since Nichols can't afford to hire his own lawyer, he's entitled to a public defender. But finding one to take the case hasn't been easy. The News on Six went to Oklahoma City for the judge's decision Tuesday.

Since it seems inevitable that Terry Nichols will be tried for murder in Oklahoma, the judge had to decide who should represent Nichols and how to pay for it. He let the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System off the hook, because the state took the money they were given to defend Terry Nichols and gave it to victims of the Oklahoma City tornado instead.

Other public defenders' offices either had conflicts or were already stretched to the max with staff and money. So the judge decided to appoint a private attorney and pay for it out of the Oklahoma court fund. "I think what happened today is exactly what needed to happen," said Jim Bednar, OIDS. "The last thing we need is to look like a bunch of redneck mothers who want to kill Terry Nichols and not pay for his defense."

Some people estimate it could cost $5,000,000 to defend Nichols against the 160 murder counts. But prosecutor Bob Macy says it should be much less. Some people in Oklahoma have the attitude, "enough is enough". A bundle of taxpayer money has already been spent on this case. After all, there's been a trial, a conviction and a life sentence given to Nichols. They even argue Macy is no longer doing this for the victims, but for his own political reasons. "I don't know where rumors and stories get started like `the victims don't want this,'" said Macy, Oklahoma County District Attorney. "Talk to a victims group and you'll hear a different story."

Once the judge picks an attorney, he must find a place to hold at least the pre-trial hearings. He toured the Oklahoma County jail as one possible site today. It would be secure and Nichols wouldn't have to be moved very far for the trial. The judge plans to look at other options too. But since attorneys expect the trial to be at least a year away, there's really no hurry picking a site.