- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

Oklahomans are in the throes of a debate weighing accountability and justice against emotional trauma and pragmatic questions of funding. At the center is Wes Lane, Oklahoma County district attorney, who is considering the possibility of charging Terry Nichols with first degree murder in a state court for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Nichols is serving life in prison. He was convicted in December 1997 on eight federal counts of manslaughter for the federal agents who died in the explosion, and for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. He could face the death penalty if convicted by a state court. Tim McVeigh was executed in June.
Some victims' survivors feel that Nichols' role in the deaths of the remaining 160 victims have yet to be fully accounted for. Others emphasize the heavy costs, both emotional and financial, a new trial would impose. Also, there is the concern that a conviction on the state level could be overturned because, in 1996, U.S. District judge Richard Matsch ruled that it would be impossible for Nichols to receive a fair and impartial trial in Oklahoma.
However, Terry Nichols has not been held fully accountable for his actions. "My mother has not had her day of justice," contends Oneta Johnson. "There's 160 people who died who worked with me," said bombing survivor Paul Heath. "Where in the law does it say that you drop a case because it's too expensive?"
Mr. Lane has promised to reach a decision by the end of the month and said the legal questions are his primary concern. That, indeed, is the bottom line.

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