Tags: Nichols | Asks | Supreme | Court | for | Rehearing

Nichols Asks Supreme Court for Rehearing

Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM

Nichols filed the request, which was released to the media Monday, after business hours Friday.

The recent discovery of more than 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence that should have been turned over to the defense led Attorney General John Ashcroft last week to delay convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's execution until June 11 to give his lawyers time to review the material. McVeigh was scheduled to be put to death Wednesday.

Nichols, because of his lesser role in the bombing, was sentenced to life in prison.

His first request for Supreme Court review was denied without comment last month. Nichols' new request asks that the Supreme Court re-examine his case in light of the newly discovered material and grant him a new trial.

Much of his argument for new high court review centers on the relevance of "John Doe No. 2."

The FBI published sketches of a purported suspect, not Nichols or McVeigh, and searched for him for months before concluding that he did not exist. Instead, government investigators determined that "John Doe No. 2" appeared to be an innocent bystander at a Kansas truck rental firm who had already been accounted for by the FBI.

The newly discovered material deals with the FBI's search for John Doe No. 2.

"In Mr. Nichols' case, the government now claims that material relevant to … John Doe No. 2 is not Brady material," which might lead a jury to conclude Nichols was innocent, Nichols' lawyers told the Supreme Court in their new filing.

A 1963 Supreme Court decision, Brady vs. Maryland, forces prosecutors to turn over evidence that might prove innocence to the defense, even in the absence of a formal agreement to do so.

"At trial, the United States contended that John Doe No. 2 did not exist and had the significance of 'Elvis sightings,' whereas Mr. Nichols argued that John Doe No. 2 does exist - and that he, not Mr. Nichols, was Mr. McVeigh's accomplice in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City," the new filing said.

"In a case of this magnitude," it added, "where the defendant's life and liberty were at jeopardy and, at the Oklahoma state level continue to be so, it is essential the defense have the opportunity to review and assess the withheld materials and then take appropriate action."

Nichols has yet to be tried on state murder charges.

The blast that struck the federal building in April 1995 took the lives of 168 people and injured hundreds more. McVeigh was captured shortly after the bombing in a routine traffic stop. Nichols was implicated in the case because of his connection to McVeigh and because by witnesses who said both men used aliases to gather materials for the bomb.

Prosecutors reached an agreement with defense attorneys, before separate McVeigh and Nichols trials, to turn over all of the millions of documents and pieces of evidence in the case, even those materials that were not central to the prosecution. The 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence were discovered after earlier repeated FBI computer searches failed to find them. Lawyers for both convicted men were notified of the find last week.

Government prosecutors contend the newly discovered materials have no bearing on the guilt or innocence of either man.

(No. 00-8900, Nichols vs. USA)

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Nichols filed the request, which was released to the media Monday, after business hours Friday. The recent discovery of more than 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence that should have been turned over to the defense led Attorney General John Ashcroft last week to delay...
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Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM
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