Judge Finds Evidence Against Nichols Compelling
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A federal judge says he denied bail to bombing suspect Terry Nichols after finding ``the weight of the evidence that he committed that offense is great.″
Chief U.S. District Judge David Russell released his strongly worded written order Tuesday. He had verbally denied Nichols’ release at a hearing Friday.
``There is not only probable cause to believe that defendant committed or aided and abetted the commission of the most devastating bombing _ in terms of loss of lives _ in the peacetime history of this country, but, the weight of the evidence that he committed that offense is great,″ Russell wrote.
Nichols was charged after a search of his Herrington, Kan., house turned up ammonium nitrate fertilizer, fuel oil and detonator cord _ ingredients like those used to build the bomb that ripped the face off the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Russell said Nichols would be a flight risk and a danger to the community if released.
Michael Tigar, Nichols’ attorney, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Nichols and Timothy McVeigh are the only people charged in the April 19 bombing, which killed 168 people and injured more than 500. Both men are being held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors have asked for more time to indict Nichols, who was arrested May 10. They contend that 19 days since then should be excluded from the 30-day deadline to indict after an arrest. The clock does not run during court appearances or while defense motions are pending.
The deadline would be moved to June 26 if U.S. Magistrate Ronald Howland grants the request, said John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman in Washington.
McVeigh’s indictment is expected before a Monday deadline.
As of Tuesday, the Midwest Wrecking Co. had hauled away about 4,500 tons of rubble from the bombing site and had at least 10 days of work left, company president Ben Kates said. The site eventually will be a memorial to the victims.
A landfill operator has set aside a separate spot for the rubble of the federal building.
``That way we’ll be able to say where it is and where it’s been disposed of and properly buried and so forth,″ said Roger Miner of BFI Waste Systems, which owns the landfill.
_Russell ordered the government to submit sealed records of visits Nichols received from prison psychologists. Nichols’ attorney has objected to the visits, which prosecutors say were to calm Nichols after a visit with his wife and child. Russell earlier ordered a stop to the psychologists’ visits.
_FBI spokesman Dan Vogel said a team of investigators that had been combing the rubble of the federal building for clues went home Saturday.
_Gov. Frank Keating announced plans for a July 4th salute to all Americans for their help after the bombing. Events will include a flag-raising ceremony at the state Capitol, a parade in honor of rescue units, and a ``Thank You from the Heartland″ ceremony.