Nichols attorney agrees to give state computers

Thursday, October 14th 2004, 6:26 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Nearly $4.1 million was spent to defend Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols in the state murder trial against him, according to expense claims filed Wednesday.

Lead defense attorney Brian Hermanson also agreed to turnover five computers and some property used in the state murder case against Nichols.

Hermanson will keep the remaining property which includes some computers, a phone system and furniture.

Oklahoma County's presiding judge, Noma Gurich, approved the property split after meeting Wednesday with Hermanson. She called it a compromise ``to avoid protracted and expensive litigation on the ownership of the property.''

Attorneys are giving up five Dell computers, a computer server, five printers, a scanner, a projector and a copier.

Oklahoma County's public defender is to pick up the property at Hermanson's law offices in Ponca City.

The judge in July ordered Nichols' attorneys to turn over all equipment and furniture purchased with money from the Oklahoma County court fund.

``To allow Mr. Hermanson to purchase, equip and furnish an existing law office with court fund dollars results in unjust enrichment at the expense of the judiciary and violates the holding of the Supreme Court,'' the judge wrote in July.

Defense attorneys protested the order, insisting the computers and equipment were their property, not the court fund's. They argued they bought the items with overhead fees the state Supreme Court found reasonable.

Almost $4 million has been paid out of the Oklahoma County court fund since 1999 for Nichols' defense. Still to be paid out of the court fund are $92,243 in defense claims _ mostly for witness travel.

Another $32,891 in defense expenses were paid out of taxpayer funds in 1999. The expenses included the salaries of six court-appointed attorneys, their investigators and other staff.

Expenses also included overhead, housing, witness travel, a jury consultant's fee, a public opinion survey and expert witness fees.

Also paid out of the Oklahoma County court fund were the costs of Nichols' security in McAlester, juror fees and other trial expenses. So far, $373,201 has been spent on those expenses; another $50,374 is still to be paid.

The Oklahoma County court fund gets money from civil case fees, criminal fines, bond forfeitures and other money paid to the court clerk.

Nichols was convicted of murder for the deaths of 160 people and one woman's fetus.

The April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people. He was already serving a federal life sentence for the death of eight federal agents

Jurors deadlocked on whether to give Nichols the death sentence. A judge later sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility for parole.