Timothy McVeigh’s lawyers asked for a new trial Monday, saying the jury that condemned him to die for the Oklahoma City bombing was unfairly swayed by victims’ testimony and “a firestorm of adverse publicity.”
McVeigh’s attorneys also cited 13 other arguments in their 180-page motion, including U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch’s decisions to exclude the defense theory that an international conspiracy was behind the blast.
“This is a very important motion,” said McVeigh attorney Robert Nigh Jr. “Mr. McVeigh’s life is literally at stake.”
Last month, McVeigh was convicted of murder and conspiracy and sentenced to death by injection for the April 19, 1995, truck bombing that tore apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people.
Co-defendant Terry Nichols is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 29 on identical charges.
In the motion, Nigh argued that the jurors were unfairly affected by pretrial publicity in the month prior to the start of the trial. In that time, The Dallas Morning News and Playboy magazine each came out with stories about McVeigh’s alleged confession.
“There was a firestorm of adverse publicity, which made it impossible for him to get a fair trial at that time,” Nigh said.
He said the jurors were also affected by “overwhelming” testimony from survivors of the bombing and relatives who lost loved ones.
“It triggered a decision that was not base upon reason, but on emotions,” Nigh said.
Nigh also argued that Matsch erred by refusing to admit the entire federal report about FBI lab-related issues, including allegations that evidence had been contaminated.
Matsch offered to admit six pages of the 517-page report, which specifically dealt with the bombing case. But defense attorneys refused, contending the whole report needed to be admitted to show a pattern of problems.
Nigh also claimed Matsch erred by refusing to allow testimony from Carol Howe, a former federal government informant who said she overheard a white supremacist and a German discuss blowing up federal buildings in the months before the attack.