In the months before the Oklahoma City bombing, Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh spent hours debating the best way to build a bomb, two FBI agents testified.
In a nine-hour interview two days after the blast, Nichols initially said he didn’t know about bomb construction, but later acknowledged that he and McVeigh “had a curiosity about if they could build a bomb,” FBI agent Scott Crabtree.
The two men pored over bombing literature at gun shows, trying to decide which devices would work best for particular situations, added FBI agent Stephen Smith.Nichols knew ammonium nitrate fertilizer and blasting caps could be used to make a bomb, but he denied ever constructing that type of device, Smith said.
Attorneys spent the day in Nichols’ murder and conspiracy trial concentrating on the interview he gave to agents at the Herington, Kan., police station and on a trip a court.
Nichols sat rigidly, but he bowed his head and his face grew red when he heard a taped, tearful message from his son that had been played for him during the interview. At least one juror cried.
“Hi Dad, I love you,” Josh said, his voice broken by sobs. “Cooperate the best you can. The FBI is being nice and … protecting us from the media. … Grandma says she loves you and believes in you. I love you, Dad. Bye.”
In another message, his ex-wife, Lana Padilla, told Nichols, “It’s really necessary that everyone needs to know that the family wasn’t involved in this … any information you can share with us to help us understand would be appreciated.”
Nichols, 42, could get the death penalty if convicted. McVeigh, 29, has appealed his conviction and death sentence following a trial on identical charges earlier this year.
Toward the end of the day’s tedious testimony, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch grew short-tempered with prosecutors as they asked Crabtree about his education and background.
“That’s all irrelevant. Let’s get to what this case is about,” he said.
For the agents, Nichols described his nine-year friendship with McVeigh, saying, “I feel I cannot trust anyone any more than Tim,” Smith said.
Nichols said he believed in the Constitution, refused to pay federal income taxes and stopped using his Social Security card, Smith said.
He admitted he was in Oklahoma City with McVeigh three days before the bombing and loaned McVeigh his pickup the day before, when prosecutors say the bomb was constructed.