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McVeigh defense seeks dismissal of charges over 'confession' reports

One-year trial delay or change of venue also sought


March 14, 1997
Web posted at: 9:01 p.m. EST (0201 GMT)

DENVER (CNN) -- Citing two published reports that claimed Timothy McVeigh had confessed to the Oklahoma City bombing, defense attorneys filed a motion Friday seeking to have the charges dismissed or the trial delayed for a year or moved to another venue.

Because of the intense publicity surrounding the case, the trial had already been shifted from Oklahoma City to Denver. Defense attorneys now want the trial moved even farther away -- to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

jones The motions filed by lead defense attorney Stephen Jones asked that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch rule "expeditiously" on them. A ruling could be issued early next week.

The defense request came just two days after the publication of a second article that quoted from purported defense documents in which McVeigh supposedly confessed to the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. The blast, which killed 168 people, is considered the bloodiest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.

Jones cited the "extraordinary circumstances" posed by publicity generated by the reports coming so close to the start of jury selection.icon (315 K / 28 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

McVeigh's trial is set to begin March 31. Co-defendant Terry Nichols is to be tried later. If convicted, each could be sentenced to death.

The government immediately filed motions objecting to all three Jones options, saying prosecutors are confident a fair jury can still be selected despite the reports. The purported confessions reported by the Dallas Morning News and Playboy are not likely to be used as evidence.


Lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler said he has never heard of a judge dismissing a case due to pretrial publicity.icon (196K / 16 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

"Juries are asked to make decisions based on evidence every day in courtrooms across the country," he said.

Most observers believe it is unlikely that the trial will be moved to yet another locale. Survivors of the blast and victims' relatives objected vehemently when the trial was moved the first time, contending it would be difficult for them to attend.


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