A judge decided Thursday that jurors at Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols’ murder trial will be allowed to hear evidence about the anti-government writings and views of executed bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Judge Steven Taylor rejected a prosecution motion to limit defense attorneys’ questioning of at least six witnesses at Nichols’ murder trial about McVeigh’s political beliefs and the anti-government literature he gave them.
The defense said evidence that McVeigh distributed anti-government literature would help explain how some of it was found in Nichols’ home in Herington, Kan., following the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing.
The witnesses include McVeigh’s cousin, Kyle Kraus, who testified at McVeigh’s 1997 federal trial that McVeigh gave him a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” a racist novel that begins with a truck bombing of FBI headquarters as part of a war against the government.
Taylor previously restricted prosecutors from introducing evidence of Nichols’ anti-government beliefs if it happened before the bombing conspiracy began.
Prosecutor Sandra Elliott said evidence of McVeigh’s extreme political views is an attempt by Nichols to show jurors it was McVeigh, not Nichols, who truly hated the government.
“The defendant was engaged in anti-government rhetoric long before he met McVeigh,” she said.
On Wednesday, John Kelso testified that he met McVeigh while both were in the Army at Fort Riley, Kan.
McVeigh's ‘closet full of guns’
Kelso, an official of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, said he, McVeigh and another soldier, Richard Cerney, lived in the same apartment in Herington for three weeks before he and Cerney asked McVeigh to leave.
“He just had a lot of weird ideas,” Kelso said. He said McVeigh had “a closet full of guns” as well as political propaganda and Soldier of Fortune magazines in his room. McVeigh also frequently attended gun shows.
Nichols, 49, is serving a life prison sentence on federal conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter convictions for the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the bombing.
In Oklahoma, Nichols is charged with 161 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus.
McVeigh was convicted of federal murder charges and executed in 2001.