Published May 08, 2003
OKLAHOMA CITY – Bombing conspirator Terry Nichols' wife testified Wednesday that her husband had spent so much time with Timothy McVeigh (search) that she became jealous and eventually demanded that McVeigh stay out of the couple's home.
Marife Nichols, 29, said McVeigh visited the couple while they were living at the Decker, Mich., farm of Nichols' brother, James Nichols, and later at a farm where Terry Nichols (search) worked near Marion, Kan.
"He'd just show up," Mrs. Nichols said of McVeigh, who was executed in 2001 for his role in the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City (search) bombing. She said she became jealous of McVeigh because Nichols, 48, neglected her when his former Army buddy was around.
"He would take the time that was supposed to be mine and my daughter's," she testified.
Mrs. Nichols said she left her husband in 1994 and returned to her family's home in the Philippines. She returned to Nichols about a month before the bombing, after he promised "that there would not be anymore Timothy McVeigh in our house."
Mrs. Nichols testified at a preliminary hearing that will determine whether there is enough evidence to try Nichols on 160 counts of first-degree murder. State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which killed 168 people.
Nichols already has been convicted on federal conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter charges and sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the bombing. The state charges involve victims who were not part of Nichols' federal trial.
Prosecutors allege that Nichols and McVeigh participated in robberies and thefts to raise money and assemble an ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb that was detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Mrs. Nichols said her husband had jade that authorities allege was stolen from an Arkansas ammunition dealer.
Nichols was at home in Kansas the day the bomb exploded. But prosecutors said he helped McVeigh deliver a getaway car to Oklahoma City and worked with McVeigh to pack the 4,000-pound bomb inside a truck the day before the bombing.
Another Army buddy, Michael Fortier, pleaded guilty to bombing-related charges and is serving a 12-year federal prison sentence for knowing about the bomb plot and not alerting authorities.
Fortier is scheduled to testify for state prosecutors at Nichols' preliminary hearing under a grant of immunity.
During one of McVeigh's visits, Nichols announced he was quitting his farming job in Kansas to sell guns with McVeigh, Mrs. Nichols said.
At the time, she said, her husband had only one gun that she knew of. When she returned from the Philippines, she said, the couple's house contained "lots" of guns, including handguns and rifles.
In other testimony, Ruth Hailey of Herington, Kan., testified that she saw a Ryder truck similar to the one McVeigh rented behind Nichols' house in Herington one or two days before the bombing.
Jerry Knapp, sales manager for a Kansas tire company, testified that about a month before the bombing, a man who identified himself as Terry Nichols called saying he was interested in obtaining trailers that could haul 55-gallon drums. Prosecutors say such drums were used to hold the fertilizer and fuel that comprised the bomb.
Knapp said Nichols became "somewhat agitated" when he told him that the trailers he had were not enclosed.
Also Wednesday, media organizations including The Associated Press asked a state appellate court to set aside a judge's order prohibiting them from publishing or broadcasting documents and photographs introduced at Nichols' hearing.
State District Judge Allen McCall prohibited reporters from copying the exhibits in response to an earlier appellate court order that stopped the judge from placing images of the exhibits on the state court system's Web site.
No date for an appeals court hearing was set. Nichols' hearing began Monday and could last several weeks.