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Nichols sold jars of fertilizer at gun show, witness says

December 10, 1997

DENVER (AP) _ A woman testified Tuesday that just weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing Terry Nichols was selling guns, shovels and small jars of the same kind of explosive fertilizer that was used in the blast.

``He was selling mayonnaise-sized jars of fertilizer for personal use,″ Sheila Nicholas said of Nichols, who visited her farm in Vassar, Mich.

Nichols was attending a gun show in the area with his family and said his unusual product sold ``pretty well.″

She recalled that her husband, Kevin, who knew Nichols because he once worked on the Nichols family farm, thought it odd that people would buy fertilizer in small amounts when they could get a large bag for $5 at agricultural stores.

Nichols told the couple that his customers weren’t aware they could buy it in large quantities, and some didn’t want that much, Mrs. Nicholas said.

Prosecutors have said ammonium nitrate fertilizer was one of the main ingredients in the truck bomb that exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people.

Investigators say Nichols helped plot the bombing with Army buddy Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in June and sentenced to death.

Kevin Nicholas also knew McVeigh, having met him in 1992. At McVeigh’s trial, Nicholas testified he had read a letter by McVeigh written two months before the bombing in which McVeigh said: ``My whole mind-set has shifted from intellectual to animal.″

In other testimony Tuesday, an Oklahoma waffle shop owner claimed that John Doe 2 _ a man investigators once sought as a suspect in the bombing _ worked for him as a dishwasher but that the FBI showed no interest in tracking him down.

The FBI says John Doe 2 was a man witnesses mistakenly thought was with McVeigh when he rented the truck used in the bombing.

Darvin Bates said he hired the man as a dishwasher at his Duncan, Okla., restaurant about a month after the bombing despite ``an uneasy feeling″ over his resemblance to the widely circulated sketch of John Doe 2.

Bates said he called the FBI to report his suspicions, but the agent he talked to wasn’t interested.

``He said they had the two men they were interested in and if they needed additional information, they would call me,″ Bates said.

The man disappeared, along with his time card, after Bates said he told him he bore an uncanny resemblance to John Doe 2.

Nichols, 42, could receive the death penalty if convicted of murder and conspiracy. McVeigh is appealing his conviction.

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