Bombing suspect Terry Nichols’ lawyer urged U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan and Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday to step aside and let someone else decide whether Nichols should face the death penalty.
A grand jury is considering whether to indict Nichols and Timothy McVeigh in the April 19 federal building bombing that killed 168 people and injured more than 500.
In a July 11 letter, Ryan informed defense attorney Michael Tigar that he would be making a recommendation to Reno on whether to seek the death penalty and invited Tigar to submit arguments to him.
Tigar maintained in his response Thursday that Ryan’s staff was too close to the blast - the federal courthouse is across the street from the bombing site - and Reno has already decided that those responsible for the bombing should face the death penalty.
“Attorney General Reno made a public, unequivocal announcement to the national media that the government ‘would seek the death penalty against those responsible’ for the bombing,” Tigar wrote.
Nichols and McVeigh are the only two people charged in the bombing. Both men are being held without bail at a federal prison in El Reno.