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Slow going in Terry Nichols' trial


Jury selection may drag into November

October 17, 1997
Web posted at: 9:01 p.m. EDT (0101 GMT)

DENVER (CNN) -- The questioning of potential jurors in the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Terry Nichols was so slow Friday that the judge delayed until Monday the process of deciding which of those interviewed during the week would be kept in the jury pool.

Normally, the lawyers and U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch spend the last portion of their Friday afternoon sessions discussing who should be sent home.

But when the time came for that process to start Friday, only three prospective jurors had been interviewed. So Matsch announced that questioning would continue and the decision on which jurors to keep in the pool would be delayed until Monday.

Matsch also chided attorneys for continually asking questions he thinks have been asked and answered in the jury selection process.

"I don't see it advances our process to go over the same questions I have already gone over," U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said at the end of the third week of jury selection.

A L S O :

Trial transcripts from Friday morning

He told the lawyers to reflect on his suggestion over the weekend.

The slow pace so far indicates jury selection, which began three weeks ago, could stretch into November. Only 26 of the prospective jurors interviewed during the first two weeks of jury selection were found to be qualified to remain in the pool.

When the pool of qualified jurors reaches 64, the defense and prosecution lawyers will be allowed final strikes to whittle the pool down to a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates.

One woman questioned Friday said she suspected the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed by gun-control supporters, who believed it would help pass legislation they support.

Despite that statement, and other opinions which appeared to make her unqualified to remain in the jury pool, Matsch allowed questioning of the woman to continue for two hours.

The woman, a real estate broker, also said her husband, a veteran of the Vietnam War who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, beats her and doesn't allow her to have her own opinions. She said his opinion is that those who died in the bombing were "the lucky ones."

She said if she served on the jury it might be the cause of some beatings from her husband.

"I truly try to avoid any situations like that," she said, adding that calling the police is no longer an option when her husband gets violent because he is armed and it would be unsafe for responding officers.

A man interviewed Friday said he works at a gold mine where ammonium nitrate, the chemical investigators say was the main ingredient in the Oklahoma City bomb, is used as an explosive. He called that "a mother of a bomb."

Nichols, 42, is charged with murder and conspiracy in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and injured more than 500.

Timothy McVeigh, 29, was convicted of the same charges in June in the same Denver courtroom. He was given a death sentence, which he is now appealing.


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