Terry Nichols Declines

To Testify Before Grand Jury

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols was called before a federal grand jury in Denver last week but declined to testify, his ex-wife and sister said.

Nichols is serving a life sentence without parole for his role in the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people, but a new investigation is ongoing after FBI agents discovered explosives beneath his former house in Herington, Kan.

It was unclear why grand jurors were meeting or what they wanted to learn from Nichols during the appearance last Thursday.

"It was very hush-hush," Nichols's ex-wife, Lana Padilla of Las Vegas, told the Oklahoman in an article published Wednesday. "He told us he went in front of the grand jury, and he was kind to the people and just said this was not the right forum, this is not where he could talk."

His sister, Susie McDonnell, said: "He refused . . . and gave an explanation why."

U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell in Oklahoma City said that grand jury proceedings are confidential and that he could not comment on the newspaper's report.

* CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA returned the space shuttle Discovery to the launchpad for the first mission since the Columbia disaster, after replacing the external fuel tank with a new model designed to prevent dangerous ice buildup. Shuttle managers are aiming for a liftoff as soon as July 13.

* NEW YORK -- The Shinnecock Indian tribe said it is seeking billions of dollars for 150 years' worth of back rent on land it inhabited for 12,000 years in New York state in one of the largest lawsuits of its kind. The area is part of the Hamptons. The suit, which also names the governor, a railroad and the town of Southampton, lays claim to 3,600 acres encompassing the upscale Shinnecock Hills Golf Course and Long Island University's Southampton College.

* OWEGO, N.Y. -- Police say a 15-year-old Binghamton area boy drove a school bus home. Investigators say the boy stole a bus from a Broome County school and then led officers on a 10-mile chase that ended at his home in neighboring Tioga County. Authorities say that charges are pending and that the boy was released to a parent.

* ATLANTA -- Ashley Smith, who gained national fame for softening a suspected killer who held her captive in her apartment, is trying her hand at writing. Her upcoming book, "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero," promises new details of how Smith persuaded Brian Nichols to let her go unharmed. The financial details were not announced.

* PINE BLUFF, Ark. -- A death row inmate who admitted in a letter to a newspaper that he killed a man in an unsolved case will be charged with the crime, police said. Kenneth D. Williams, 26, condemned to die for a 1999 killing after a prison escape, told the Pine Bluff Commercial that he fatally shot Jerrell Jenkins, 36, in 1998. He said he wrote the letter in an effort to restore a relationship with his family and society.

-- From News Services