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Jury Selection in the Trial of Suspected Oklahoma Bomber Terry Nichols Is Expected To Resume

October 1, 1997

Jury Selection in the Trial of Suspected Oklahoma Bomber Terry Nichols Is Expected To Resume TodayBy SANDY SHORE

DENVER (AP) _ Terry Nichols’ chief attorney chided the judge in the Oklahoma City bombing trial for growing short-tempered with a prospective juror who suggested computers could do a juror’s job better than humans.

At the end of court Tuesday, Michael Tigar told the judge he thought U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch’s questioning of the computer programmer was improper both in ``tone and content.″

``Jurors may be reluctant to admit their bias and it would be better to reward him for his honesty than put him on the spot,″ Tigar said.

The computer programmer, a tall, blond man with wire-rimmed glasses, said he believed Nichols was guilty, though he did not believe he could impose the death penalty.

Matsch said a decision on a man’s guilt wasn’t like putting information into a computer, adding, ``That’s why we don’t have computers (in trials).″ The potential juror retorted, ```Maybe we should look at the computer.

``I’m a pretty opinionated person,″ the man added. ``I’m not a computer. I can’t just turn that off.″

Matsch then called a break. He explained later that he was growing angry.

``I just take some umbrage at the notion that what is done by jurors ... is something a computer could do better,″ he told Tigar.

Jury selection was scheduled to resume today after Matsch heard a defense motion that seeks to conduct some juror challenges in open court. Matsch prefers to conduct those challenges in chambers.

In addition to the programmer, other prospective jurors questioned Tuesday included a computer systems specialist, the wife of a police officer and a remedial reading teacher, all from the Denver area.

Nichols, 42, could get the death penalty if convicted of murder and conspiracy in the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Timothy McVeigh was convicted in June of the same charges and sentenced to die.

Prosecutors say Nichols, 42, helped McVeigh acquire bomb components, build the bomb and hide a getaway car in Oklahoma City. They also contend Nichols robbed a firearms dealer to finance the bombing.

Defense attorneys say Nichols was at home in Herington, Kan., when the blast occurred and didn’t know about the bombing in advance.

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