November 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Jurors See Firearms Recovered At Nichols’ 3 Days After Bombing Rifles, Grenade Launcher Found; Defense Says He Was Gun Dealer

Steven K. Paulson Associated Press
 

Prosecutors on Friday showed jurors a cache of firearms - from rifles to a grenade launcher - recovered from Terry Nichols’ home three days after the Oklahoma City bombing.

FBI agent William West, who stepped down from the witness stand to identify the weapons, said he found them hidden in closets, cupboards and above a bathroom ceiling.

Defense attorneys asked West to identify price stickers on some of the guns. They have contended Nichols was a gun dealer.

Following a strategy used during Timothy McVeigh’s trial, prosecutors left jurors heading into the weekend with a vivid impression of the bombing’s impact.

Two jurors blinked back tears as Florence Rogers, retired chief of a federal employees’ credit union, described how co-workers disappeared in a cloud of dust when the bomb brought down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people.

“The building literally blew up before my eyes,” she testified. “My desk had disappeared … they’d all disappeared.”

Eighteen of her employees died.

Others testifying Friday included Tim Chambers, a Texas salesman who said he delivered racing fuel to a man resembling McVeigh in October 1994, and David Darlak, who said McVeigh called him trying to buy racing fuel.

Nichols, 42, could face the death penalty if convicted of murder and conspiracy charges in the bombing. McVeigh, 29, has appealed his conviction and death sentence following a trial on identical charges.

Prosecutors showed jurors a crude, handmade drawing FBI agents found in Nichols’ trash.

Lead defense attorney Michael Tigar objected strenuously when prosecutors called it a map. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ordered the word “map” stricken from the record.

Published reports have said the drawing depicts the federal building, and the nearby YMCA, where the getaway car was believed stashed, along with routes into and out of the city. The landmarks are not identified in the drawing.

Prosecutors also showed jurors a 55-gallon drum, similar to three found in Nichols’ garage. Investigators say it was similar to those used to build the bomb.

Hoisting the barrel to chest level, Tigar asked FBI investigator Mary Jasnowski if she had examined the barrels in Nichols’ garage to see if they matched rings found on the floor of a storage unit rented by McVeigh before the bombing.

Jasnowski said she had not examined the bottoms of the barrels.

Matsch offered to have a court official help Tigar as he struggled to hoist the barrel, but Tigar pointed out that “one man” could lift the barrel, using the exchange to back up the contention that McVeigh could have built the bomb by himself.


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