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Brother's book: ATF blew up Murrah building

James Nichols

Jury selection continues in Denver courtroom

October 8, 1997
Web posted at: 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT)

DECKER, Michigan (CNN) -- As jury selection continues in the trial of accused Oklahoma bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, his brother has published a book meant to plant the seeds of doubt about whether Nichols was involved in the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.

The 415-page book, co-written with Bob Papovich, is called "Freedom's End: Conspiracy in Oklahoma." In it, James Nichols contends that his brother had nothing to do with the 1995 bombing, that a law enforcement agency actually blew up the building, and that the FBI has not investigated the case sufficiently.

"They have failed to prove anything. They have investigated people, but not the bombing, because all they want to do is prosecute people, not find out the truth."

— James Nichols

Specifically, James Nichols contends that the plastic barrels found at his brother's Kansas home did not match those found in the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He also contends that the bomb did not contain ammonium nitrate, as prosecutors contend.

vxtreme CNN's Ed Garsten reports.

James Nichols does admit that Timothy McVeigh, already convicted and sentenced to death in the attack that killed 168 people, was upset about a 1993 raid by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. But he scoffs at the idea that was the motive for the Oklahoma bombing, as prosecutors say.

"Getting back at the (ATF) is a really stupid argument. There were few (ATF) agents stationed at the Murrah building," he writes.

Freedom's End

Instead, James Nichols maintains that the ATF itself blew up the Murrah building as part of a cover up of what happened at Waco.

He wrote, "Who benefits by destroying records that would prove that the (ATF) was lying about the alleged drug laboratory, illegal weapons and child abuse at (the Davidian compound)?"

Contacted for a response, an ATF spokesman told CNN that the agency could not comment because of the ongoing trial of Terry Nichols in Denver.

James Nichols is scheduled to testify in his brother's defense.

For James Nichols, writing the book may have been easier than getting it published. He says mainstream publishers would not print it, so he and Papovich published it themselves and took out loans to pay for it. Nichols also says many books stores are refusing to carry it because of its controversial subject matter.

Jury selection continues in Denver

In Denver meanwhile, a second week of jury selection began in Nichols' trial in U.S. District Court.

A grandmother who said it would be a mortal sin for her to impose the death penalty, and who pleaded that she needed to be with a sick daughter, was dismissed Wednesday on grounds of hardship.

"I could never think of putting a person to death, because how can you put a person to death when it won't bring the people back?" she asked. "It would be on a person's conscience."

The woman is Catholic and Judge Richard Matsch asked if she considered it a mortal sin to sentence someone to death.

"Yes," said the woman, "a mortal sin."

She was followed by a man who designs packaging for the medical industry. He said the death penalty would be appropriate in "a crime where someone shows no remorse. It might be a very violent crime."

Another prospective juror interviewed Wednesday morning was a man who at first said the death penalty should be automatic for anyone convicted of premeditated murder. Later, under questioning by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch, the man conceded that he could consider the character and background of the defendant before imposing a death sentence.

The court is attempting to find a pool of 64 "death penalty-qualified" jurors from which a final panel of 12 jurors and six alternatives will be chosen.

Under federal law, jurors must agree that they can impose the death penalty but will also consider other sentences if mitigating circumstances warrant.

Nichols, 42, could receive the death penalty if he is convicted of the murder and conspiracy charges he faces.

Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten contributed to this report.


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