Terry Nichols saved-on earth and beyond

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2003
Terry Nichols saved-on earth and beyond
6
Sun, 06-13-2004 - 10:02pm
I'm not a fan of the death penalty anyway, but my eyebrow kind of went up at this. Do you think if he had converted to Wicca it might have turned out differently?


Millions later, Terry Nichols spared again

By Tim Talley

Associated Press

McALESTER — Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols may have been spared the death penalty for a second time because a jailhouse conversion to Christianity gained him sympathy from the jury, lawyers in the case said Saturday.

The state prosecution, staged in an attempt to secure the death penalty at a cost expected to soar to $10 million, ended with the same sentence Nichols received in federal court six years ago: life.

Juror Daniel Cochran said as many as eight of the 12 jurors agreed to impose a death sentence, but declined to disclose further details of their deliberations.

“We all agreed that what went on in the jury room would stay in the jury room,” he said.

But lawyers for the prosecution and defense agreed jurors were influenced by Nichols’ religious conversion. Nichols was also portrayed as susceptible to manipulation by Timothy McVeigh, the bombing’s mastermind.

During the sentencing portion of his trial, defense witnesses testified Nichols had worn out four Bibles through prayer and research, and that he wrote an 83-page letter to a prayer partner in Michigan while trying to make a point about Christian faith.

“Terry Nichols’ belief in God is so firm that he believes if the rapture occurred today he is going to heaven,” defense attorney Creekmore Wallace told jurors.

After convicting him of 161 counts of murder in just five hours, the jury wrestled with his punishment for more than 19 hours before concluding they could not agree on a penalty.

The deadlock means Nichols will automatically be sentenced to life in prison for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

He received the same sentence on federal convictions for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in 1998. That jury deadlocked after more than 13 hours of deliberation.

The state charges are for the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus.

District Attorney Wes Lane, who pursued murder charges filed by his predecessor, Bob Macy, said the prosecution was about seeking justice for the other victims, not securing the death penalty.

“Justice was getting their day in court,” he said.

But in announcing the state charges, Macy had said he was not satisfied with the outcome of the federal trial.

“Clearly the reason they brought this action in Oklahoma was to kill Terry,” defense attorney Brian Hermanson said. “They spend a huge amount of money. They caused a huge amount of heartache for a lot of people. And basically we reached the same result as the federal case.”

Lane said he believes Nichols was spared because of “sympathy issues” among some jurors, including for his religious conversion — one that prosecutors said conveniently began about the time state murder charges were filed against him.

“I don’t see Terry Nichols as being repentant necessarily,” Lane said. “I know that Mr. Nichols was not willing to accept responsibility.”

Wallace said Nichols’ religious conversion is genuine, and that jurors may also have believed that Nichols was used by McVeigh, who was executed on federal murder charges June 11, 2001.

“Every person in his life who has had any kind of agenda has been able to manipulate the man,” Wallace said. He said Nichols has no social skills and may suffer from a mild form of autism.

Polls conducted before the start of Nichols’ trial showed that most Oklahomans opposed bringing Nichols to trial again because he was already serving life in prison.

A poll conducted by the Tulsa World in January found 70 percent of Oklahomans opposed the expense of a state trial. Only 25 percent were in favor, according to the Oklahoma Poll.

Nichols’ defense team alone has been paid almost $4 million. That figure that does not include the cost of prosecution or of transporting and housing prosecution witnesses during Nichols’ trial.

Bud Welch, a death-penalty opponent whose daughter, July Marie Welch, died in the bombing, said even some families who were angry that Nichols didn’t get a death sentence in his federal trial opposed the state charges.

“It just made sense the jury would not go for the death penalty,” said Welch, who read a victim impact statement during the penalty phase. “I think some of the jurors felt that it’s been nine years, he’s been in prison.”

Hermanson said Nichols’ jury had renewed his faith in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.

“I am so proud of those jurors who voted their heart and listened to the evidence in holding out for life,” Hermanson said.

“There was not a valid reason for killing him other than the seeking of vengeance. There’s no place for vengeance in the courtroom.”

Avatar for emmlevin
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 06-14-2004 - 7:38am
I'm not a fan of the death penalty anyway, but my eyebrow kind of went up at this. Do you think if he had converted to Wicca it might have turned out differently?

I don't know. However some people associate conversion with a recognition of past wrongdoing and an implied desire to change (not that this always happens mind you).

But I don't think they would kill him just because he converted to Wicca. The death penalty is being handed out less and less as we see more cases of false convictions.

>>>Juror Daniel Cochran said as many as eight of the 12 jurors agreed to impose a death sentence, but declined to disclose further details of their deliberations.

“We all agreed that what went on in the jury room would stay in the jury room,” he said.

We really don't know how much his religious conversion if any played in the decision. It's all speculation.

Avatar for jillianmarie77
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 06-14-2004 - 3:08pm
Oh I thought we all wanted state and church separated? If the state has a death penalty law and it was imposed on someone it should be carried out regardless of that persons religious affiliation.

I'm a woman divided on the death penalty anyways. Part of me wants it for wll of those people that I think deserve it (that would be the emotional, often irrational self serving side that is like a patch of weeds) and the other part wants to judge not and leave it to God (that is the better more elusive side of me that I work so hard to cultivate).

Truthfully though if this person had converted to anything that isn't christian (or possibly judeaism but I doubt it) it owuldn't mean a thing....except maybe a swifter execution.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2004
Mon, 06-14-2004 - 3:17pm
>>If the state has a death penalty law and it was imposed on someone it should be carried out regardless of that persons religious affiliation.<<

It's the flip side of the reasoning that leads blacks to get the death penalty more often than whites (I don't know the validity of the research on this - I've just heard it's the case and believe it to be true). He's found the way and mended his life, after all...

Personally, I don't have a problem with the death penalty per se. I just think you need to be *really* sure you're right before you take a step like that. And I don't know that you can get that kind of certainty with any system available to us.

Pete

"My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

Avatar for jillianmarie77
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 06-14-2004 - 3:55pm
I think you can get certanty. Especially in cases of child abuse. Unfortunately they don't get capitol punishment for that.

Nice folks like Scott Peterson go free too.

What are our courts for (besides suing each other over violeted civil rights)?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2004
Mon, 06-14-2004 - 4:06pm
>>I think you can get certanty<<

And I think that so long as there are humans running the process there will be a certain percentage of mistaken executions. Some people consider that the price we have to pay. I would just hate to be the one who has to "take one for the team"...

Pete

"My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-23-2004
Sat, 06-19-2004 - 11:49pm

Judaism doesn't do jailhouse conversions. They DO provide spiritual care to Jews, but they have to be Jewish before they enter jail.

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