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Victims of Bombing Want Closed-Circuit Broadcast of Trial

February 14, 1996

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Relatives of the Oklahoma bombing victims are seeking to bypass the ban on cameras in federal courthouses to provide closed-circuit coverage of the trial.

Defense attorneys have said they will oppose any closed-circuit broadcast. ``I think it would produce a media circus,″ Stephen Jones, a lawyer for bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, said Tuesday. McVeigh and Terry Nichols are charged in the blast, and could get the death penalty if convicted.

Cameras and tape recorders are banned in federal courthouses, although some districts make exceptions for ceremonial occasions.

The judge is deciding now where the trial should be held. The defense wants it moved to another state, saying it would be impossible to get a fair trial in Oklahoma. Prosecutors believe it should be moved to Tulsa, about 90 miles from Oklahoma City, so victims’ relatives can attend. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

Karen Howick, a Oklahoma City lawyer representing relatives of victims, wants a closed-circuit broadcast to accommodate families of the 169 people killed in the April 19 blast. ``I think we have a real good chance of doing it,″ she said.

Ms. Howick has asked U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan and U.S. Sen. Don Nickles to help her.

Prosecutors plan to wait until the judge selects a trial site before deciding whether to request a closed-circuit broadcast, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Mullins said.

In a letter to Ms. Howick, CourtTV executive Steven Brill offered to broadcast the proceedings to a closed-circuit audience in Oklahoma City at no charge. Brill promised not to broadcast the trial to the cable station’s national audience.

Also on Tuesday, Oklahoma City television station KFOR sued the Justice Department and the FBI over their refusal to release tapes taken from surveillance cameras mounted on buildings near the bombing site.

The station had asked for the tapes under the Freedom of Information Act, but the government contends that they are exempt as part of an ongoing criminal case. The lawsuit claims that the tapes could be turned over without jeopardizing the government’s investigation.

Prosecutors have said that one of the tapes shows the truck carrying the bomb stopped at an intersection near the federal building.

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