- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

The Justice Department yesterday asked the Supreme Court for a 30-day extension to respond to accusations by convicted Oklahoma City conspirator Terry Nichols, who said in an appeal that evidence in his case was mishandled by the FBI.
Department spokeswoman Chris Watney said the request to the high court asked that the response be due Aug. 6.
The court had asked that Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson respond to the Nichols appeal in the wake of disclosures by the FBI that it failed to turn over more than 4,000 documents to prosecution and defense attorneys in the trial of Nichols' co-conspirator, Timothy McVeigh.
The court's order, however, did not address accusations by Nichols' attorneys that the FBI may have deliberately withheld the information.
Three times the federal courts have turned down Nichols' pleas for a new trial. The Supreme Court generally denies nearly every request for a second chance by losing parties, and it is rare for it to ask for a response.
Nichols, 46, was convicted in December 1997 of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 persons, including 19 children, and was sentenced to life in prison. He was acquitted on federal charges of first- and second-degree murder.
His attorney, Michael Tigar, has argued that defense attorneys did not have access to all the investigative material before trial. That accusation was the basis of an earlier unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court this spring, before the FBI's acknowledgement that it had failed to turn over the documents.
"We believe that the entire issue of [evidence] production should be subjected to the test of adversary review," Mr. Tigar wrote in his court filing.
Charged in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers killed in the Oklahoma City blast, Nichols appealed the case based entirely on what he described as the FBI's failure to turn over the documents during the McVeigh trial.
Nichols faces trial on separate murder charges sought by state prosecutors, where he could be sentenced to death. Those charges, state authorities said, involve the deaths of the other 160 persons.
McVeigh was convicted by a federal jury on June 2, 1997, in the bombing and two months later was sentenced to death by lethal injection. The government carried out that sentence on June 11 at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind.
Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed McVeigh's execution for 30 days to give defense attorneys time to look over the FBI documents. But, he said, nothing in the documents would have abrogated McVeigh's conviction or death sentence.

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