|High Court Denies Terry Nichols' Appeal|
The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the Fifth Amendment appeal of Terry Nichols, suspected co-conspirator in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okalahoma.
Without comment or dissent, justices rejected Nichols' appeal that standing trial for murder in state court would violate his Fifth Amendment right against "double jeopardy," or being tried twice for the same crime. The ruling clears the way for Nichols to be tried in Oklahoma courts on 160 charges of first-degree murder, all of which carry a possible sentence of death.
In 1997, a jury in federal court convicted Nichols of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents who were in the Murrah Building at the time of the blast. Nichols is now serving a life sentence on this conviction.
The bombing killed 168 people and prosecutors argued that state charges against Nichols involved 160 different victims than the eight involved in the prior federal conviction.
The federal jury found that Nichols had helped his former Army buddy Tim McVeigh design, build and plan the delivery of the bomb. McVeigh was executed in June 2001 for actually delivering and detonating the bomb, destroying the building and killing 168 people.
Lawyers for Nichols argued before the Supreme Court that the "massive" level of participation by state law enforcement officials in the federal trial should prevent further prosecution under state law.
Oklahoma's lawyers countered that the federal government had controlled the entire investigation of the bombing and that the federal government now lacked jurisdiction necessary to prosecute Nichols for the 160 victims not covered in the federal charges.
Preliminary hearings will now be held in an Oklahoma court to determine if adequate evidence against him exists to try Nichols.
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