Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols was sentenced Monday to life without the possibility of parole for his role in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. Addressing a court for the first time, he read a statement citing God and asking forgiveness.
“My heart truly goes out to all the victims and survivors and to everyone who was affected by the Oklahoma City bombing,” Nichols said. “Words cannot adequately express the sorrow I have felt over the years for the grief they have all suffered.”
District Judge Steven Taylor ordered Nichols to serve the life term on each of 161 counts of first-degree murder and that the sentences run consecutively.
Nichols had already been sentenced to life without parole in 1998 on federal bombing charges; Monday’s sentence was on the state murder counts. Nichols was spared the death penalty on the state counts when jurors could not agree on a sentence.
Judge rebukes him
Nichols, 49, never testified during his state and federal trials and said nothing after he was convicted in federal court. In his statement Monday, he asked for forgiveness, asked “everyone to acknowledge God,” and offered anyone his help in the healing process.
But Taylor called Nichols a “terrorist,” adding that the redemption and atonement Nichols seeks is only the beginning.
“Your criminal acts in this case are historic in proportion,” Taylor said. “No American citizen has ever brought this kind of devastation; you are in U.S. history the No. 1 mass murderer in all of U.S. history. What could motivate you to do this? There are no answers.”
Nichols received 10 years and a $5,000 fine for a conspiracy count; 35 years and a $25,000 fine for first-degree arson and was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution and $10,000 per count to a victims compensation fund, as well as legal fees.
Nichols was convicted on federal involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy charges for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers who were among the 168 victims killed during the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Jurors at his federal trial also had deadlocked on whether to sentence Nichols to death.
The state charges were for the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus. Jurors could not consider a death sentence on the count involving the fetus and sentenced Nichols to life without the possibility of parole for that count.
Appeal might not happen
Taylor had the choice of sentencing Nichols to life with or without the possibility of parole on the remaining charges.
With the sentencing, Nichols has 10 days to appeal his conviction and sentence. His defense attorneys have urged him not to appeal, since gaining a new trail could result in another attempt to secure the death penalty.
The chief prosecutor, Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, has said he expects Nichols to be returned to federal custody once the deadline for filing an appeal expires.
Bomber Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges and executed on June 11, 2001.
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