Tags: Oklahoma | Proceeds | With | Nichols | Prosecution

Oklahoma Proceeds With Nichols Prosecution

Wednesday, 05 September 2001 12:00 AM

Lane, appointed to succeed the retiring Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, met earlier this summer with survivors and the families of victims of the Murrah Federal Building bombing to help him reach a decision.

"They asked me if I could guarantee that he would never, ever succeed on his federal appeals," Lane said at a news conference near the "Survivor Tree" overlooking the memorial to the 168 who died in the April 19, 1995 bombing.

"I could not and cannot now make such a promise," said Lane. "With the recent revelation of missing documents we observed Timothy McVeigh obtain the right to further court hearings, even after he had dropped his own federal appeal."

McVeigh, convicted of masterminding the bombing, was executed June 11.

"For me to simply dismiss this case clinging to a hope that nothing further will ever spring up to place his conviction in jeopardy would, in my opinion, be irresponsible," Lane said. "I will not roll the dice on this issue. There is simply too much at stake."

Lane said a letter written to the Tulsa World by Nichols' attorney, Brian Hermanson, saying Nichols had agreed to waive his right to appeal his federal sentence if Lane dropped state prosecution "was a glaring, blatant violation of the gag order to which Mr. Hermanson personally agreed." The letter published Wednesday, Lane said, "purported to represent negotiations" between the defendant and prosecutor.

Consequently, Lane said he intended to file a motion for sanction against Hermanson. It does not take "rocket science," the district attorney said, to conclude that the defense attorney was trying to manipulate his decision on whether to continue with the Nichols prosecution.

"The purpose behind that part of the gag order is to prevent the defendant or the state from manipulating public opinion through partial or misleading disclosures or portions of the discussions," Lane said.

The prosecutor said his biggest concern was the stress on the community and the families in another bombing trial.

"I am very aware of the emotional cost and truly believe after much thought and prayer that proceeding is the only appropriate course of action available to me at this time," he said.

Of his meetings with the families, he said, "Those people weren't after blood. They just want accountability. I was surprised by that."

Lane said taxpayers would not foot any of the bill for the trial.

"Not one tax dollar will be paying for Mr. Nichols' lawyers under the plan that has been in effect for over a year now," he said.

The defense cost will be paid from a court fund, consisting of proceeds from fines, court costs and money paid for licenses and the filing of lawsuits.

Neither, he said, will taxpayers contribute "one dime" of additional money for the prosecution. He said he would not ask for any additional funds from the legislature.

Gov. Frank Keating, who appointed Lane in the spring, said he supported the decision as "fully appropriate."

Paul Howell, whose daughter Karen Shepherd died in the bombing, said: "I told him I would support him one way or another. I just wanted him to hurry up and make a decision."

The fact that McVeigh and Nichols were tried in federal court only for deaths of eight law enforcement officials was a big factor for some family members.

"He [Lane] said it all," said Doris Jones, whose daughter Kerri Lenz was killed. "We want someone tried for our murders."

Shelly Thompson said it was "very important" to see someone tried for the death of her mother, Virginia Thompson.

"He was not found guilty of my mother's death or for the other 159 people's deaths," she said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Lane, appointed to succeed the retiring Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, met earlier this summer with survivors and the families of victims of the Murrah Federal Building bombing to help him reach a decision. They asked me if I could guarantee that he would...
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Wednesday, 05 September 2001 12:00 AM
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