Terry Nichols’ arraignment on state murder charges in Oklahoma begins a new phase in the case that could lead to the death penalty for the Oklahoma City bombing conspirator. Nichols, already serving a life prison sentence on federal bombing convictions, is scheduled to be arraigned on 162 first-degree murder charges before District Judge Steven Taylor. The judge, who makes his first appearance Tuesday after being assigned the case by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, may also be asked to set a trial date and schedule hearings on a variety of defense motions. Since Nichols was brought to Oklahoma in January 2000, his attorneys have said publicity about the bombing and Nichols’ federal conviction made it impossible for him to get a fair trial. Defense attorney Brian Hermanson, who has asked judges “to shut this case down” and dismiss the charges, says the publicity had stripped Nichols of his constitutional right to a presumption of innocence on the state charges. State prosecutors have said the issue was premature because Nichols had not been ordered to stand trial for his role in the bombing. Full Story
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