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Prosecutors attempt to link caps at Nichols’ house to bombing

November 11, 1997

DENVER (AP) _ Blasting caps found in a sealed box in Terry Nichols’ basement were the same brand as caps stolen from a quarry and suspected in the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, an FBI agent testified Monday.

Under cross-examination, agent Larry Tongate acknowledged the blasting caps are commercial products that are widely available.

Prosecutors were trying to use Tongate’s testimony and evidence about a drill bit found in Nichols’ house to link him to the theft of the blasting caps and other explosives from the quarry near Marion, Kan., in October 1994, six months before the bombing.

They allege the stolen explosives were used in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 and injuring dozens.

Defense attorneys contend Nichols was at home in Herington, Kan., when the bombing occurred and was unaware of any bomb plot.

Earlier Monday, two law enforcement tool mark experts compared markings from the drill to those found on a padlock at the Martin Marietta quarry’s explosives storage trailer. Prosecutors are trying to prove the drill was used during the robbery.

Defense attorney Michael Tigar got a scolding from U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch when he cut up an evidence photo to show that test scratches made by the drill bit did not match those made on the trailer’s lock.

``You’re cutting a copy, I assume?″ Matsch asked as Tigar snipped away.

When Tigar said it was a photo admitted into evidence, an enlargement of a prosecution photo, Matsch said, ``We oughtn’t to be cutting up exhibits without prior approval.″

Putting his half of the picture of the lock against a prosecution photo of a test impression from the drill bit, Tigar showed there were many places the scratches made by the bit did not match. Jurors watched intently on television monitors.

The two drill witnesses, James Cadigan of the FBI and George Krivosta of the Suffolk County sheriff’s office in New York, acknowledged there are few precedents for courtroom testimony on drill-bit evidence.

Krivosta said he disagreed with the findings of Cadigan on some parts of the drilled-out lock. He said he believed more of the scratches matched.

Prosecutors called more victims Monday, breaking up the sometimes dry testimony with emotional recollections about the bombing.

Ronald Bain brought tears from victims in the courtroom when, over Tigar’s objections, he told about a sergeant in his office who lost a daughter in addition to seven co-workers.

Jurors began slogging through evidence of phone records from a telephone calling card bought under the name Daryl Bridges.

Attorneys for Nichols said he signed the application for the card but Timothy McVeigh made some of the payments.

Prosecutors said the card was used to locate bomb components and make arrangements for the bombing. Tigar noted that a computer failed to record some calls and none of the records indicate who made the calls.

Nichols, 42, faces the death penalty if convicted of murder, conspiracy and weapons-related counts in the April 19, 1995, bombing. McVeigh was convicted of identical charges in June and sentenced to die. His appeal is pending.

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