Jurors Chosen in Nichols Trial
DENVER (AP) _ Jury selection is nearly complete in the second Oklahoma City bombing trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch qualified another jury prospect today, bringing to 68 the number of prospects deemed qualified since Terry Nichols’ trial began Sept. 29. A few others were being questioned today, and the pool was expected to be completed later in the day.
The judge needed to qualify at least 64 so each side could excuse 23 potential jurors on peremptory challenges, or those that require no explanation. As he did in Timothy McVeigh’s trial, Matsch has qualified extra prospective jurors in case something unexpected arises.
The final panel will consist of 12 jurors and six alternates. Attorneys for both sides expect it to be seated on Thursday and opening statements to be delivered Monday, which would mark the beginning of the trial’s sixth week.
Matsch and attorneys have questioned nearly 125 prospective jurors.
The more than 50 deemed not qualified were released for such reasons as financial hardship, health problems, an inability to understand the legal process or an unwillingness to impose the death penalty. Under federal law, jurors in murder cases must be willing to consider the death penalty.
On Tuesday, Matsch qualified a gun shop owner who believes government is too intrusive on its citizens and a retired Army nurse who believes the execution of a criminal can ease the grief of victims. This morning he qualified a human resources manager, questioned earlier, who believes the death penalty is a deterrent to crime but isn’t imposed often enough.
Nichols, 42, could be sentenced to die if convicted of murder and conspiracy in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The explosion killed 168 people and injured more than 500.
McVeigh was convicted of identical charges in June and sentenced to die. His appeal is pending.