The Nichols Trial: Summary of the evidence

The Denver Post/December 24, 1997
By George Lane

Dec. 24 - Here's a look at some of the key elements, evidence and arguments in the trial of Terry Nichols.

For the prosecution:

  • A drill bit found in Nichols' Herington, Kan., home matched tool marks made on a lock that was busted in the fall of 1994 at a Martin Marietta Rock Quarry near Nichols' former home in Marion, Kan. Explosives stolen from the rock quarry were thought to have been used to detonate the truck bomb, and similar explosives were found in Nichols' home. The defense disputed the match.

  • Receipts found in Nichols' home for 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer sold by the Mid-America Coop in McPherson Kan., to a Mike Havens. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer was the main ingredient in the truck bomb that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building. Prosecutors said Nichols used the name Mike Havens as an alias.

  • The plastic in the blue barrels found in Nichols' garage after the bombing was identical to shards of plastic found at the bomb scene. FBI agents contend the ammonium nitrate fertilizer and racing fuel were packed into these kinds of barrels and detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah building. The defense said such barrels were frequently found on farms in the area.

  • Guns, jewels, camera equipment and other items allegedly stolen from Arkansas gun collector Roger Moore were found in Nichols' home. Prosecutors contend Nichols robbed Moore to fiance the bombing. The defense said the robbery was an insurance hoax by Moore, a longtime friend of Nichols' co-defendant, Timothy McVeigh.

  • Michael Fortier, another McVeigh buddy, said McVeigh told him of Nichols' involvement in bomb planning and Nichols visited the Fortier home in Kingman, Ariz., several times with McVeigh. On one occasion, he said, Nichols loaded a truck outside a Kingman storage locker while McVeigh showed off the explosives inside. Defense lawyers said Fortier was a drug-addled liar and got him to admit he never heard Nichols threaten violence.

  • Videotape from the Regency Towers Apartments, 1 1/2 blocks from the bombed federal building, showing Nichols' dark blue pickup with a white camper shell passing the building on Easter Sunday three days before the blast. Prosecutors contend Nichols went to Oklahoma City on Easter Sunday to pick up McVeigh after McVeigh dropped off the getaway car. The defense said Nichols went to Oklahoma city to pick up a television set from McVeigh after McVeigh's car broke down.

    For the defense:

  • Terry Nichols was home in Herington and not in Oklahoma City at 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995, when the Murrah building was destroyed by a truck bomb.

  • He didn't run. He didn't hide. When Nichols heard his name connected with the bombing on television news reports, he went to the Herington police station and subjected himself to 9 1/2 hours of questioning by FBI agents. Prosecutors say he lied in those interviews. The defense says Nichols was lied to by federal agents, who never taped the interrogation and had to rely on handwritten notes and their memories when they testified about what he said.

  • A short, olive-skinned man identified only as John Doe No. 2 - not Nichols - was seen numerous times with McVeigh or a man fitting McVeigh's description when he rented the Ryder truck used in the bombing, in and around Junction City, Kan., and in Oklahoma City before and after the bombing.

  • Numerous Ryder trucks that were spotted throughout the Junction City-Herington area, including the fishing lake where the bomb was allegedly built, up to a week before McVeigh rented the bomb vehicle and nine days before the blast. The defense said that proved others were involved. The prosecution questioned the credibility of many of the sightings.

  • Fortier never heard Nichols talk about bombing a building or killing people, and Nichols was never present when McVeigh talked about the bomb plot.

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