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Lawyers: McVeigh Left Note on Tower

December 6, 1997

DENVER (AP) _ Hoping to bolster their claim Timothy McVeigh was growing increasingly paranoid and tried to recruit others to his cause, attorneys for Terry Nichols introduced a note they say McVeigh left on a utility tower in rural Arizona that warned ``a man with nothing left to lose is a dangerous man.″

Donald Pipins, a utility worker, told jurors he found the note inside two sealed envelopes more than 10 feet up the side of the tower in the desert near Kingman, Ariz., on Nov. 30, 1994 _ less than five months before the Oklahoma City bombing.

``A man with nothing left to lose is a very dangerous man and his energy/anger can be focused on a common/righteous goal,″ McVeigh wrote in the note introduced at Nichols’ trial Friday.

Defense attorneys have said the note Pipins found was addressed to ``SC,″ who has been identified as Steven Colbern, an Arizona man never publicly linked to the bombing. Lead defense attorney Michael Tigar has said McVeigh was trying to recruit Colbern.

In the note, McVeigh said he couldn’t be certain of Colbern’s motives, saying, ``In short, I’m not looking for talkers. I’m looking for fighters.″ In a postscript, he added, ``If you are a fed, think twice about the Constitution you are supposedly enforcing.″

Nichols, 42, faces the death penalty if convicted of murder and conspiracy. McVeigh is appealing his conviction and death sentence on similar charges for the April 19, 1995 bombing that killed 168 and injured hundreds more.

Defense attorneys also pounded their theme that others were involved, calling a bombing survivor who testified she encountered two men next to a car resembling McVeigh’s getaway vehicle near the federal building after the blast. She said she thought it odd when one man _ whom she later identified as McVeigh _ asked if a lot of people were killed. She couldn’t identify the other man.

Germaine Johnston, branch chief of the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, said she and her desk were showered with ceiling tiles and other debris when the bomb went off.

Covered with pulverized concrete and wet from water spewing from broken pipes, Ms. Johnston left the building, encountering the two men near a 1977 yellow Mercury Marquis.

As she approached about 30 minutes after the bombing, Ms. Johnston said, the taller man asked her what happened and she told him of the blast. Then, she said, the man asked, ``A lot of people killed?″ Ms. Johnston replied she didn’t know.

``I thought he was going to ask me if he was going to help me or if I was OK,″ she said.

Ms. Johnston said she realized the taller man was McVeigh when she saw his picture on television after his arrest.

Before recessing for the day Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said the trial was proceeding ahead of schedule, but he could not say how much longer it would take. Jurors grinned, and one raised a clenched fist and mouthed the word, ``Yesss.″

In the first four days of its case, the defense has called 55 witnesses in an effort to convince jurors that others were involved in the plot; that the government is mistaken about when the bomb was built; and that Nichols was developing a gun-show business and taking care of his family, while McVeigh was distributing anti-government literature and growing more paranoid.

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