updated 4/21/2004 4:58:00 PM ET 2004-04-21T20:58:00

A judge refused Wednesday to dismiss the murder case against Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and restricted defense attorneys’ ability to argue there was a wider conspiracy than the government has acknowledged.

Judge Steven Taylor found no basis for defense claims that the prosecution withheld evidence important to Nichols’ case. He said the defense request for a dismissal was “laced with melodrama but no substance.”

“Most of the claimed new evidence is not new at all,” Taylor said.

Nichols’ attorneys alleged last week that the prosecution was withholding evidence that there were other suspects in the bombing who have never been charged, including members of a white supremacist robbery gang and residents of Elohim City, a white supremacist enclave in Oklahoma.

“These are not new theories and this is not new evidence,” the judge said.

If Nichols’ attorneys want to introduce evidence about other suspects in the bombing, they must show such people made overt acts to further the bomb plot, Taylor said. And he said no such showing has been made.

Nichols, 49, is on trial on state murder charges that could bring the death penalty. He and Timothy McVeigh were previously convicted on federal charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people.

They were the only people charged with direct involvement in the plot.

McVeigh was executed in 2001 and Nichols was sent to prison for life.

'No such videotape'
The materials that Nichols’ attorneys claimed were withheld included a Secret Service document describing security video footage of the attack. A Secret Service agent had testified that this document exists, but said it was based on unverified information and the government knows of no videotape.

“There is no such videotape,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s ruling came before more testimony from the prosecution’s star witness, Michael Fortier, a friend of McVeigh and Nichols.

On cross-examination Wednesday, Fortier said he never spoke to Nichols about a plot to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building, or the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, or any anti-government views. Prosecutors say the Oklahoma City bombing was a twisted attempt to avenge the deaths of about 80 people in the Waco siege.

Fortier is serving a 12-year sentence for knowing about the bomb plot and not telling authorities.

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