A federal jury Tuesday convicted Terry Nichols of manslaughter and conspiracy in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 persons, the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.
In doing so, however, the jury acquitted Nichols of first- and second-degree murder and the use of a deadly weapon.
The conspiracy verdict carries the death penalty, but Nichols’ acquittal on 10 more-serious charges was a victory for the defense and makes a death sentence unlikely, legal observers said.
Survivors and relatives of explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building reacted to the verdict with disappointment.
“He conspired to build the bomb. What the hell did they think he was going to do with it?” asked Marsha Kight, who lost her daughter.
Lighting the way
The Vatican celebrated Hanukkah for the first time Tuesday, lighting a menorah candle in a garden where popes have strolled for centuries.
“There is much darkness in the world around us. There is much need of light,” declared Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy before lighting the candle on Pope John Paul II’s behalf.
Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, and this year it officially launches a year of commemorations of Israel’s 50th anniversary as a state. Israeli officials said the leaders of 33 nations, including the United States, also heeded their appeal to light Hanukkah candles Tuesday in honor of the anniversary.
Christmas in Cuba
Christmas around the world was marked by relative peace and extended into a country that doesn’t usually celebrate the holiday: Cuba.
In honor of Pope John Paul II’s January visit, Fidel Castro lifted the state ban on Christmas celebrations in the communist nation.
In the pope’s Christmas message, he urged the world to take care of the homeless and suffering and announced he would be visiting Italy’s earthquake-ravaged central region next week.
Bosnians celebrating the holiday were met with nationalistic pamphlets hung across Sarajevo and rocket fire in the southwestern town of Mostar.
The fliers plastered on walls around the capital told Muslim residents not to “participate with Christians in celebrating their holidays” and were signed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Organization of Active Islamic Youth.
In Mostar, a rocket fired from the Croat-controlled western half of the city into the Muslim-ruled east hit an apartment. No one was injured.
But many in Sarajevo ignored the divisive message of the fliers. Bosnian Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Jews attended Mass together to hear prayers for those of all religious faiths affected by Bosnia’s 3-1/2-year war.
“This pamphlet is nonsense. Whoever made it obviously knows nothing about this country and this town,” said Mirsada Catic, a Muslim who attended Mass in Sarajevo with her Catholic boyfriend, Zoran Jermovic.
When the Muslim holiday of Ramadan begins next week, Jermovic said, “I’ll be celebrating it with Mirsada’s family, the same way she was celebrating Christmas with my family.”
“Isn’t it better to have two holidays and two families instead of one?”
A Gonzaga Christmas
Gonzaga University athletic director Dan Fitzgerald resigned Monday after a six-month investigation into the collection and disbursement of athletic department funds without the knowledge of the university’s controller’s office.
Acting GU president Harry Sladich announced the departure of one of the most popular, respected and influential sports figures in the region three days before Christmas and then refused to take questions from the media.
“This is an in-house personnel matter,” he said.
Despite the school’s description of Fitzgerald’s departure as a resignation, it does not appear Sladich was willing to welcome Fitzgerald back as athletic director, a post he has held for the past 19 years. Fitzgerald also served two different stints as the Bulldogs’ men’s basketball coach during that time, posting a 15-year record of 254-169.
City buys a view
The city of Spokane purchased the riverfront view just below the library for $1.9 million by settling a legal squabble with the owners of the property.
The city had attempted to condemn the riverfront property owned by Steve and Leslie Ronald, who had plans of developing condominiums. The Ronalds sued and a jury in April decided the Ronalds’ land was worth $2.184 million - nearly 50 times the value set by one appraiser hired by the city.
The Ronalds paid $125,000 for the 1.34 acres in 1986.
The city has no plans for the site, but felt the purchase was necessary to preserve the library view of the Spokane River falls.
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by news editor Kevin Graman and assistant news editor Gary Crooks from staff and wire reports.