Nichols Faces State Trial and Possible Death

Antigovernment Terrorism

After years of appeals and other delays, it now appears certain that Terry Nichols will be tried in an Oklahoma state court for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing. As in his first, federal trial, Nichols could face a death sentence if convicted.

The Supreme Court in January declined to consider an appeal from Nichols, who contended that trying him again in connection with the bombing that left 168 people dead constituted double jeopardy prohibited by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Nichols was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in a 1997 federal trial in which prosecutors unsuccessfully sought the death penalty.

Nichols was tried for the murder of eight federal agents, the only deaths the federal government was permitted to charge him with. Since the federal jury spared Nichols the death penalty, Oklahoma prosecutors have long wanted to try him for the murder of the other 160 victims.

Nichols' attorneys argued that the federal and state charges were essentially similar, but the Supreme Court did not agree.