MCALESTER, Okla. – The fate of Terry Lynn Nichols is now in the hands of an Oklahoma jury, after a day of marathon closing arguments in which his lawyers tried to cast doubt on the state’s evidence and lay the blame for the Oklahoma City bombing on Timothy McVeigh and others.
“This is a case about manipulation, betrayal and overreaching,” defense attorney Barbara Bergman said. “People who are still unknown assisted Timothy McVeigh.”
Bergman spent 90 minutes Tuesday outlining deficiencies with the state’s scientific evidence in the April 19, 1995, blast that ripped open a federal building and killed 168 people. The attorney raised questions about whether the 2-ton bomb, stuffed into a Ryder truck, was really built from fertilizer and fuel, components the state alleged Nichols helped purchase and hide using aliases.
Nichols is serving a life term on a federal conviction for the deaths of eight law enforcement officials who died in the blast. McVeigh was executed for the crime. The state opted to try Nichols again, in hopes of getting the death penalty this time, using much of the same evidenced presented in 1997.
Nichols is facing 161 murder counts for the other victims, which include an unborn baby. The jury may only consider first-degree murder or not guilty.
Defense attorney Brian Hermanson took pains to distance Nichols from McVeigh during the months leading up to the blast and suggested McVeigh kept Nichols in the dark – and even deliberately planted evidence to set Nichols up.
In her rebuttal, assistant district attorney Sandra Elliott told jurors, “For you to believe that Mr. Nichols is not involved in the conspiracy, you would have to believe so many coincidences falling down around Mr. Nichols that it’s unimaginable.”