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Newly revealed FBI documents prompt Nichols' appeal

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Terry Nichols, serving a life prison term in the Oklahoma City bombing, appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court after the FBI revealed it had failed to hand over evidentiary documents to defense attorneys.

Nichols was convicted on charges of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in a trial that followed Timothy McVeigh's conviction in the 1995 bombing, in which 168 people died.

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Michael Tigar, Nichols' attorney, told CNN that he filed the appeal at 11:45 p.m. ET Friday asking the court to order the solicitor general to look into the impact of the newly disclosed files from the investigation on his case.

"Terry Nichols was acquitted of most of the charges against him," Tigar said Friday. "He's got a real defense here."

Tigar said the discovery was "more significant for Terry than it is for Tim" because the documents could shed light on whether there was another man involved, the mysterious "John Doe No. 2," placed by one witness with McVeigh when he rented the truck used in the bombing.

This possible accomplice was never found or identified, although McVeigh's trial attorneys based his defense on the possibility of a broader conspiracy behind the bombing.

Tigar said he believed the FBI had deliberately withheld some 3,000 documents, not inadvertently, as Justice Department officials said.

"I'm angry because this is what the FBI does," said Tigar. "We've caught them doing it again and again and again."

Eldon Elliott, who ran the Ryder outlet in Junction City, Kansas, where the bomb truck was rented, was the only eyewitness who tied McVeigh directly to the bomb truck.

In a recent interview with CNN, Elliott said he saw McVeigh twice at his Ryder shop -- once when McVeigh paid him for the rental, and later when he came back to get the truck.

Elliott said the second time, there was a second man.

"A lot of times, I wake up thinking, trying to think who that second person could have been," he said.

The FBI says McVeigh came in alone. Elliott insists there was someone else. Elliott often wears a shirt he made that says: "Ryder Truck. We remember our customers."

"I don't know if he was just with him (McVeigh) there, brought him out, if he was in on it, I don't know. You always wonder," Elliott said.

McVeigh, Elliott said, deserves to die.

"Because no one," he said, choking up, "should take that many lives."

Nichols, who met McVeigh while both men were in the Army, was sentenced to life without parole on charges that he conspired with McVeigh to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Nineteen children were among the 168 people who died in the worst case of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Nichols was given a 48-year sentence for his convictions on eight counts of involuntary manslaughter -- eight federal employees killed in the blast -- to be served concurrently with the life sentence. He was ordered to pay the government $14 million for the damage caused to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

He was acquitted of murder and weapons-related charges.

Nichols and McVeigh were tried separately in Denver, Colorado, before U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who sentenced McVeigh after the jury was unable to agree on a sentence.

Nichols was turned down in an earlier bid for a new trial and his appeal was rejected both by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and the U.S. Supreme Court.



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RELATED SITES:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Oklahoma State Government
Death Penalty Information Center
US Federal Bureau of Prisons

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