Terry Nichols Receives 161 Life Sentences

Terry Nichols Receives Life Sentence for Each of 161 Victims in 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing

Associated Press/August 9, 2004

McAlester, Okla. -- Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols was sentenced Monday to life without the possibility of parole for his role in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. He issued a statement citing God and asking forgiveness. District Judge Steven Taylor ordered Nichols to serve the life term on each of 161 counts of first-degree murder and that the sentences run consecutively.

Nichols had already been sentenced to life without parole in 1998 on federal bombing charges; Monday's sentence was on the state murder counts. Nichols was spared the death penalty on the state counts when jurors could not agree on a sentence.

Nichols, 49, never testified during his state and federal trials and said nothing after he was convicted in federal court. But he submitted a lengthy written statement Monday in which he asked for forgiveness and offered anyone his help in the healing process.

Nichols prayed "for everyone to acknowledge God," and to make God first in their life, the statement read.

But Taylor called Nichols a terrorist and said the redemption and atonement he seeks is only the beginning.

Nichols received 10 years and a $5,000 fine for a conspiracy count; 35 years and a $25,000 fine for first-degree arson and was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and $10,000 per count to a victims compensation fund, as well as legal fees.

Nichols was convicted on federal involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy charges for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers who were among the 168 victims killed during the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Jurors at his federal trial also had deadlocked on whether to sentence Nichols to death.

The state charges were for the other 160 victims and one victim's fetus. Jurors could not consider a death sentence on the count involving the fetus and sentenced Nichols to life without the possibility of parole for that count.

Taylor had the choice of sentencing Nichols to life with or without the possibility of parole on the remaining charges.

With the sentencing, Nichols has 10 days to appeal his conviction and sentence. His defense attorneys have urged him not to appeal, since gaining a new trail could result in another attempt to secure the death penalty.

The chief prosecutor, Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, has said he expects Nichols to be returned to federal custody once the deadline for filing an appeal expires.

Bomber Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges and executed on June 11, 2001.

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