Nichols's Defenders Seek More Money

OKLAHOMA CITY--The head of the state agency that appoints public defenders told a judge yesterday that the office does not have enough money to adequately defend bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

The Legislature appropriated $1 million to the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System last year for Nichols's defense on state murder charges. Jim Bednar, the agency's executive director, has said defending Nichols could cost as much as $5 million.

In May, however, the Legislature withdrew $900,000 of the funds in Nichols's case and reallocated it to help victims of tornadoes that killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes that month. An attempt to restore the funds failed during a special session in June.

During a hearing on the agency's request to withdraw as Nichols's attorney, Bednar told Judge Robert M. Murphy Jr. that "with the disapproval of that funding, we believe our appointment fails."

Murphy responded that he has "a hard time seeing" the need to help tornado victims "as a legitimate reason to withdraw the money."

Nichols and Timothy McVeigh were convicted of federal charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing. McVeigh was sentenced to death for the bombing and the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers.

Nichols is serving life for conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter for those deaths.

In March, Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy filed 160 murder charges against Nichols and said he will seek the death penalty.

Two months later, the Legislature redirected the $900,000 to tornado victims and reappropriated $300,000 that had been promised to Macy's office for Nichols's prosecution.

State Sen. Cal Hobson testified that the money was withdrawn because lawmakers deemed a state trial unnecessary, since Nichols already is serving life in prison.

But Murphy said the Legislature cannot tell a prosecutor which cases to prosecute.

N.Y. Terrorists' Conviction Upheld

NEW YORK -- A U.S. appeals court upheld the conviction of militant Muslim Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine followers for plotting an unprecedented campaign of urban terrorism in the United States.

The Egyptian cleric was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury in 1995 of leading a conspiracy that included the World Trade Center bombing, planned attacks on other buildings, and the murder of political and religious leaders.

"The 10 defendants were accorded a full and fair jury trial lasting nine months. They were vigorously defended by able counsel," the Second Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion.

The three-judge panel concluded that all the claims raised on appeal are without merit.

The jury had convicted the defendants of a Civil War-era crime called seditious conspiracy.