January 8, 1998 in Nation/World

Forewoman’s Comments Anger Victims’ Relatives Some Say Nichols Jury Mad At Government; Prosecutors Praised

G. Robert Hillman Dallas Morning News
 

Upset at what they perceived as anti-government sentiments among some jurors in Terry Nichols’ trial, relatives of bombing victims rushed to defend federal prosecutors Wednesday.

“We’re extremely proud of them,” said Roy Sells, who lost his wife of 37 years, Leora Lee, in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. “We think that they’ve done a great job of presenting the evidence.”

Sells and a dozen others who have been in Denver to follow the Nichols’ trial said they particularly were incensed at the jury forewoman, Niki Deutchman, who told reporters the case against Nichols was circumstantial.

Sells said he was disappointed and more than a “little bit angry” at Deutchman. “I thought she was, maybe, sleeping,” during the trial, he said.

“All she talked about was what the lawyers did, how they reacted, how she thought they did, and very little about the evidence,” he said. “They should have paid attention to the evidence and the testimony.”

For more hour, Deutchman discussed the case at a news conference, explaining the difficulties the jury of seven women and five men had in reaching a verdict and trying to decide a penalty for Nichols.

On Dec. 23, they found Nichols guilty of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers killed in the blast. They acquitted him of two other bombing charges and of all the counts of murder against him.

Deutchman said the government did a poor job in investigating the crime and prosecuting Nichols. “There were a lot of things about evidence that seemed to be sloppy,” she said.

And she said, “There are a fair number of people out there who are pretty unhappy with the government and feel unsafe and very suspicious and, in many cases, angry with the government.”

Sells said such comments angered him. “I think the jury was very anti-government … that it was mad at the government before it even went in there,” he said.

Rudy Guzman, who lost his brother, Randy, Marine captain, was quick to echo Sells. “I didn’t like her comments,” Guzman said. “She kind of opened the door, saying, ‘It’s OK, if you’re mad at the government, to blow up a building. I’m against that. I hope this never happens again.”

The prosecution team, led by Larry Mackey, did the “best job,” Guzman said.

“They’re No. 1 in my heart.”


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