- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Terry Nichols contributed more to plans to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building than executed bomber Timothy McVeigh did, a prosecutor said yesterday during closing arguments in Nichols’ state murder trial.

Nichols’ attorneys have argued that McVeigh set Nichols up to take the blame for the work of other, unidentified conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing plot. But prosecutor Lou Keel said Nichols had been heavily involved in the plans from the beginning.

“Nichols was the biggest contributor,” Mr. Keel said.

“There’s a landslide, there’s an avalanche of the evidence” of Nichols’ role, he said.

Nichols, 49, is accused of 161 counts of first-degree murder. Judge Steven Taylor ruled earlier that the death penalty may be sought on all the counts if Nichols is convicted, except one for the death of a fetus.

The April 19, 1995, blast killed 168 persons and injured hundreds. Nichols is serving a federal life sentence for involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy in the deaths of eight federal law-enforcement officials in the bombing.

Mr. Keel told jurors that Nichols purchased 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the largest component of the fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

He displayed a receipt for the Sept. 30, 1994, purchase of 2,000 pounds of the fertilizer, showing jurors the name of the purchaser, Mike Havens, an alias sometimes used by Nichols.

Mr. Keel reminded jurors of testimony from FBI agents and an employee of a rock quarry in Kansas that explosive materials, including detonation cord and blasting caps stolen from the quarry, were discovered in Nichols’ home after the bombing.

Mr. Keel said Nichols had been the first among the conspirators to look for a way to transport the explosives when he acquired plastic barrels and attempted to purchase a trailer.

“I submit to you the evidence is crystal clear,” Mr. Keel said.

If Nichols is convicted, the trial will enter a second phase in which jurors will decide whether Nichols should be sentenced to life in prison or death by lethal injection.

Defense attorneys had sought to allow jurors to find Nichols guilty of charges less serious than first-degree murder, but Judge Taylor rejected the request.

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