Nichols jury resumes deliberations
January 5, 1998
Web posted at: 9:26 p.m. EST (0226 GMT)
DENVER (CNN) -- Jurors resumed deliberations Tuesday on whether to recommend sentencing Terry Nichols to death for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The jury spent nearly five hours on Monday in deliberations before recessing.
The jury ended the day with a question for U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch on the "elements of the offense" Nichols stands convicted of -- conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Matsch told jurors he could not directly respond to questions "where the answer depends on how you view evidence in the case."
A L S O :
Procedure the Nichols jury faces
Questions for the Nichols jury
Oklahoma City bombing trial - Transcripts
"The court has no opinion as to what your findings should be," he said.
He then adjourned court until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The seven-woman, five-man jury got the case Monday following the defense summation and government rebuttal.
Matsch then instructed jurors on aggravating factors that would contribute to a death penalty and mitigating factors they must weigh in considering life or a lesser sentence.
The jury, which already has convicted the 42-year-old defendant of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction,
can recommend one of three options: the death penalty, life
in prison with no chance of parole, or a lesser sentence to be determined by Matsch.
Nichols also was convicted on eight counts of involuntary
manslaughter, an offense punishable by up to six years in prison. Matsch will decide on sentences for those offenses.
Nichols' Army buddy Timothy McVeigh, 29, was convicted on all 11 counts in the original indictment, including conspiracy, bombing the Oklahoma City federal building and eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of eight federal law officers.
McVeigh detonated the bomb. Nichols was at his home in Kansas at the time of the attack.
In the government's 35-minute rebuttal Monday, prosecutor Pat
Ryan told jurors that "a sentence of less than life would be
"Terry Nichols was a product of his choices," Ryan said. "He
chose to enter into this conspiracy and it's now time for
Terry Nichols to accept responsibility for his action."
In its closing argument, the government made an impassioned
plea for a death penalty -- the same sentence faced by McVeigh.
Prosecutor Beth Wilkinson gives her closing argument
Prosecutor Beth Wilkinson charged that for seven months
leading up to the April 19, 1995 truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Nichols acted in "reckless disregard" for human life.
"He knew that death was a possibility and he didn't care," Wilkinson said.
In the 15-minute defense summation, lead attorney Michael
Tigar, while acknowledging the pain suffered by families of
the bomb victims, begged that Nichols' life be spared.
"We have come a very long way from justice based on vengeance and blood feuds," he said.
"My brother is in your hands," Tigar told the jurors, repeating the words he used in wrapping up the verdict phase of the case.
Tigar noted that the jury already had acquitted Nichols of
actually participating in the bombing and declared: "There's
no going back on what's been done."
He added that the government's star witness in both the
McVeigh and Nichols trials, Michael Fortier, had turned
state's evidence without ever being charged with a
death-penalty crime even though he was a conspirator.
After the case went to the jury, the defendant's teen-age son, Josh, visited his father in jail. He later left the building in tears.