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Judge Asked To Deny Nichols Retrial

June 11, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ Prosecutors have asked a judge to deny Terry Nichols’ latest bid for a new trial, arguing that controversial discussion of the Oklahoma City bombing case by jurors shouldn’t affect his conviction.

In a brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, prosecutor Sean Connelly characterized the discussions that reportedly occurred outside formal deliberations as ``internal.″

He asked U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch to deny Nichols’ motion.

``Anyone who has ever participated in a group discussion lasting hours _ much less days _ knows it is virtually impossible to avoid side discussions,″ Connelly wrote.

``It is clear, however, that 12 impartial jurors struggled to _ and ultimately did _ reach unanimous verdicts based on their collective view of the trial evidence,″ he said.

Nichols, 43, was convicted Dec. 23 of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people.

Defense attorneys filed the new trial motion June 4, just before Matsch sentenced Nichols to life in prison.

The motion was based on reports in which jurors Todd Fockler and Tim Burge, who favored conviction, said they were stunned when jurors voted 10-2 for acquittal in an initial straw poll. The men then reportedly discussed the case privately.

Connelly acknowledged the talks may have violated Matsch’s instructions, but ``it was not fundamental enough to invalidate the jury’s verdict.″

In March, defense attorneys contended Nichols deserved a new trial because prosecutors withheld thousands of documents from the defense team that could be considered evidence. Matsch denied the motion.

Nichols’ former Army buddy, Timothy McVeigh, was convicted last year of murder, conspiracy and weapons-related counts in the bombing and sentenced to death. His appeal is pending.

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