Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols will not appeal his state murder convictions for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, his attorney said Thursday.
Nichols’ attorneys had been advising him against appealing the 161 convictions because an appeal could mean a new trial and another opportunity for prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison Aug. 9 because his state jury had deadlocked on whether he should be executed.
In a brief statement, attorney Brian Hermanson said Nichols did not want to prolong the pain for victims’ families.
“As he said in his sentencing, Terry sincerely hopes that the final conclusion of this case will be the beginning of a long-awaited healing process for all those impacted by the bombing.”
Nichols, 49, is already serving life in prison without parole on federal charges for the April 19, 1995, bombing, which killed 168 people. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy in the late 1990s for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers, but jurors at that trial also deadlocked on whether to sentence Nichols to death.
The state charges are for the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus.
Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, who had sought the death penalty in the case, urged Nichols to cooperate with investigators still looking at other conspirators.
“Since this case is now completely over and Terry Nichols has claimed that he is truly sorry for his actions, he should now be willing to fully respond to these families’ many unanswered questions concerning the events surrounding the Murrah Building bombing,” Lane said.
Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal murder charges and executed in 2001 for carrying out the blast.
For families, not surprising
Nichols’ decision not to appeal his Oklahoma convictions was not a surprise to survivors and victims’ family members.
“Terry is smarter than I thought he was,” said Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons died in the blast. “I didn’t think he was dumb enough to file another appeal; that would be committing suicide. Another trial in Oklahoma, and he would have died.”
Richard Williams, who survived the 1995 blast, said Nichols’ decision not to continue his legal battle allows victims to move on.
“Quite honestly, I’m glad he’s not,” Williams said. “I think we need to get beyond this part of our journey. I don’t use the word closure, because I don’t believe in it. There’s never a day that goes by that we don’t think about it. There is always something to remind us.”