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Nichols Refuses Offer of Leniency

From News Services
Tuesday, April 21, 1998; Page A02

DENVER, April 20—Terry L. Nichols today rejected an offer of leniency in exchange for information about the Oklahoma City bombing, saying it would jeopardize him if he is tried in Oklahoma.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, Nichols said his constitutional right to silence is violated by the federal offer since his comments could help a state prosecution that could lead to the death penalty.

He did say, however, that he would review thousands of pages of government leads that point to another participant in the bombing.

"He could go through these . . . documents to see if any of them provide meaningful information, which, together with his knowledge, would help answer the court's questions," Nichols's attorney Michael Tigar said in the filing.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch told Nichols he will sentence him to life in prison unless Nichols helps resolve lingering questions about the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Co-defendant Timothy J. McVeigh was sentenced to death.

Matsch delayed Nichols's sentencing after an unexpected dispute arose over restitution to victims.

In a separate U.S. District Court filing today, Tigar argued that Nichols's assets and future earnings potential make the $14.5 million restitution demand ludicrous.

Tigar called the demand an effort "to impose additional punishment, this time on Mr. Nichols' innocent (and indigent) wife and young children."

A lawyer for Nichols's wife said she had visited a state social services agency to apply for welfare benefits.

Nichols promised that he would never profit from the crime.

"Anybody who thinks I would for a second think of profiting from this or any tragedy, does not know me," he said in a two-page affidavit signed in the prison cell where he is awaiting sentencing.

He said that if he ever sold his story or wrote a book about the bombing, all proceeds would benefit survivors through a trust fund.

Nichols was convicted in a federal trial Dec. 23 of conspiracy and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, but the jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty, which leaves his sentence to Matsch. The maximum he can receive is life in prison without parole.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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