Nichols complaints bring delay

Oct. 30, 2001 at 10:11 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' preliminary hearing on state murder charges has been delayed until questions about financing his defense are answered by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

State District Judge Ray Dean Linder postponed next week's preliminary hearing Monday after Nichols charged in court that he was being "railroaded" by the Oklahoma court system.

"Without proper funding, you may as well go ahead and hang me right now because that is exactly what is occurring in this court system," Nichols said.

"The bias and prejudice is not only obvious, but it is blatant as well. I'm clearly being railroaded by the entire state of Oklahoma court system."

Nichols also disclosed he is on a hunger strike because the size of his meals has been cutback and he is not getting what he called "true" whole-wheat bread.

Nichols, 46, was convicted in federal court of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. He was sentenced to life in prison. A total of 168 people died in the bombing attack.

Now Nichols faces 160 state murder charges in Oklahoma district court in the other deaths. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty. He has been in the Oklahoma County Jail since January 2000 and the preliminary hearing has been delayed five times.

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the judge to determine if the prosecution has enough evidence against Nichols for a trial.

The defense attorneys have spent $1,664,952, but they say they are running out of money. In July they asked to withdraw from the case unless they received more money. They have complained to the state Supreme Court about the language of their contract.

Linder said he would not schedule another preliminary hearing until the appeals court decides the funding question.

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