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Prosecution rests in Nichols murder trial

The prosecution rested Friday in the state murder trial of Terry Nichols arising from the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors rested Friday in the state murder trial of Terry Nichols, who they argued was deeply involved in plans to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building.

Prosecutors presented evidence over 29 days that they said links Nichols to the attack. He faces possible execution if convicted.

The defense begins making its case Thursday and may call as many as 200 witnesses.

Doctors who performed autopsies on bombing victims wrapped up prosecutors’ testimony, describing how some victims died of decapitation and traumatic injuries, such as severed limbs and skull fractures.

The April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of murder in federal court and executed.

Nichols, 49, is already serving a life prison sentence after a federal jury convicted him of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents in the bombing.

In Oklahoma, he is charged with 161 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Survivors and victims’ families said they were pleased with the prosecution’s case.

“It’s one more step closer to where we want to be,” said Darlene Welch, whose 4-year-old niece died in the federal building’s Social Security office. “We want a conviction and the penalty that we want — death.”

If Nichols is convicted, the trial will begin a new phase to decide whether he is sentenced to death or life in prison.

The state’s star witness, Michael Fortier, testified over three days that McVeigh told him Nichols was deeply involved in plans for the bombing. Fortier, McVeigh and Nichols met in the Army.

Prosecutors allege Nichols helped McVeigh gather bomb components and helped pack the homemade device into the cargo bay of a Ryder truck. Fortier said McVeigh told him that Nichols also robbed an Arkansas gun dealer to help finance the plot.

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