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Court Nixes Delay of McVeigh Appeal

July 18, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ An appeals court is going ahead with consideration of Timothy McVeigh’s appeal after ruling the convicted Oklahoma City bomber waited too long to question whether witness leniency agreements are legal.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that McVeigh should have included the argument in his initial appeal or oral arguments, which were held in April.

``We will not allow him to raise the issue for the first time at this late date,″ the judges wrote.

McVeigh’s attorney, Robert Nigh Jr., asked the judges this week to delay a decision on his appeal until they determined whether it was legal for federal prosecutors to offer leniency to criminal witnesses in exchange for testimony.

The request was based on a controversial ruling issued this month by three judges of the appeals court, who said those types of agreements were illegal because they were tantamount to buying testimony.

The full 12-judge circuit panel has put the ruling on hold and plans to rehear the issue in November.

Nigh had argued the case could help McVeigh win a new trial because his conviction was based in part on testimony from Michael Fortier, who reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

McVeigh was convicted of murder, conspiracy and weapons-related charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The blast killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Fortier, who testified against McVeigh and Terry Nichols, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to failing to notify authorities about the bombing plot, transporting stolen weapons and lying to FBI agents.

Nichols was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy.

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