Nichols participated in bomb plans, Fortier says

Prosecution witness recalls months leading to Oklahoma bombing

CNN/April 20, 2004

McAlester, Oklahoma -- Timothy McVeigh identified Oklahoma City's federal building as the target of his bomb plot in December 1994 and said he planned to destroy it "to get people's attention," the prosecution's key witness against co-conspirator Terry Nichols testified Tuesday.

Fortier told jurors in Nichols' state murder trial that he and McVeigh inspected the building in December 1994, and McVeigh told him "That was the building they were planning on doing." He said McVeigh chose the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building "because the Murrah building was where the orders for the burning of Waco came out of."

McVeigh's belief that the building was the headquarters for the FBI standoff in Waco, Texas, was mistaken. The agent who served as the bureau's press spokesman during the siege had his office in a building six miles away.

Fortier testified earlier that Nichols was actively involved in planning the bombing and robbed an Arkansas man to help fund the plot.

In testimony that echoed his statements in the earlier trials, Fortier told the court that McVeigh had written to him in the fall of 1994, "telling me him and Terry had decided to take some type of positive action, and he wanted to know if I wanted to help them." Prosecutors contend Nichols and McVeigh began buying the fertilizer that was used in the Oklahoma City bomb during that period.

He said McVeigh -- whom he had met during Army basic training in 1988 -- showed up unexpectedly at his home soon after the fire that ended the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco in 1993.

"He just knocked on my door and I opened it up and he was there," Fortier testified. "He was excited about it, angry about it."

In December 1994, Fortier said, he and McVeigh drove to Oklahoma City, where McVeigh studied the building and the surrounding streets. Fortier said McVeigh pointed out parking spaces where he would park the vehicle containing the bomb and a parking lot where he would leave a getaway car.

Fortier said he had "anti-government feelings" at the time, but swore he never agreed to assist McVeigh in any way. He said he told McVeigh he would be better served speaking out "instead of doing something more drastic."

McVeigh's response, he said, was, "That's what it's going to take."

"He felt he needed to blow this building up to get people's attention," Fortier said. "He said it was going to be on the anniversary of Waco."

Fortier said McVeigh also pointed out a moving truck on an Oklahoma City freeway and said he was using a similar truck to deliver the bomb. The keys to the truck McVeigh used were later found in a parking lot near the Murrah building.

The April 19, 1995, bombing -- two years after the Branch Davidian siege ended with about 80 deaths -- killed 168 people. McVeigh was arrested on a highway outside Oklahoma City later that day and was executed in 2001 for his role in the plot.

Nichols, 49, is serving a life sentence on federal charges in the deaths of federal agents who died in the blast. If convicted in the state case, he could face the death penalty.

Fortier, 35, has served eight years of a 12-year federal prison term in connection with the bombing. He was allowed to plead guilty to four lesser charges, the most serious of which was that he failed to warn anyone in advance of the bombing, in exchange for his testimony against McVeigh and Nichols.

He is being held by federal authorities in the witnesses protection program at an undisclosed location.

Witness recounts robbery

Terry Nichols arrives at the Pittsburg County Courthouse in McAlester, Oklahoma, on Tuesday. In October 1994, Fortier testified, Nichols and McVeigh visited him at his home, bringing plastic jugs with them that were filled with ammonium nitrate fertilizer and wired with blasting caps.

"They asked me if I wanted to go out with them to the desert to explode those items," he said. "I said no."

In November 1994, he said McVeigh -- then living in Las Vegas -- called him to tell him that Nichols had robbed Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore, known as "Bob."

"He said this was a 'code red' call, to go to a pay phone and call him," Fortier said. "He said, 'Terry did Bob.' "

Later, Fortier said McVeigh described how Nichols overpowered Moore outside his home and forced the man to let him inside. After the Oklahoma City bombing, FBI agents found a cache of guns, gold and jewelry stolen from Moore's home inside Nichols' residence.

No longer the clean-cut man who testified at the federal trials, Fortier appeared in court with shoulder-length hair curling thickly over the back of his neck. He wore a pale green-and-white checked shirt open at the collar as he took the stand.

Fortier conceded he was using drugs at the time of the bomb planning, mainly amphetamines, and said he went from using drugs two to three times a month in 1994 to three to four times a week in 1995. He said McVeigh used crystal meth with him three or four times, mixing it with a sport drink.

During his testimony, Fortier looked at Nichols only once. Nichols did not appear to look at Fortier, instead studying papers on the defense table and talking with his lawyer.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.