26 potential jurors qualified for Nichols trial
2nd week of jury selection ends Friday
October 10, 1997
Web posted at: 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 GMT)
DENVER (CNN) -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys wrapped up their second week of jury selection Friday in the trial of Terry Nichols -- still less than halfway through the process of finding enough qualified prospects from which to pick a jury.
As of Friday afternoon, 54 prospective jurors had been questioned. Of those, 26 have been judged as qualified and placed into a pool from which the final 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch has said that he wants to have a pool of 64 qualified potential jurors before beginning the process of selecting the final jury. At the current rate, it may be early November before a jury is seated.
Nichols, 42, is charged with conspiring with Timothy McVeigh, an Army buddy, to detonate a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1997. The blast killed 168 people and injured more than 500.
McVeigh has already been convicted and sentenced to death for the worst act of terrorism ever on United States soil. Prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty against Nichols.
Under federal law, prospective jurors must agree that they can impose the death penalty but would consider other sentences if mitigating circumstances warrant.
One prospective juror interviewed Friday said the death penalty would be warranted in premeditated murders such as the bombing of an airplane.
Another woman spent only a half-hour in the courtroom because it was quickly obvious she would not qualify. She said her Catholic religion would prevent her from imposing the death penalty.
"I could not in good conscience sentence someone to death because of my basic belief that human life is sacred and should not be taken," she said.
Another prospective juror, whose questioning began Thursday and resumed Friday morning, said he would be reluctant to serve since he was starting a new career and would have a hard time focusing on the trial.
"I'm not sure my heart would be in it," he said. The man said he tried to be "as nonjudgmental as possible" but felt he could pass judgment as a juror.
"It's one of those things I would consider a necessary evil," he said, adding that he also could vote for the death penalty.
"It would have to be something extreme, something that would hit me to the core," he said.
National Correspondent Tony Clark contributed to this report.