McALESTER, Okla. – A jury of six men and six women was seated Thursday to hear the state murder trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (search).
The jury, which includes a retired Army Special Forces officer and a homemaker, was selected after nine days of questioning from Judge Steven Taylor and attorneys for the prosecution and the defense. Also seated were six alternate jurors, three women and three men.
Opening statements were set for March 22 so the courtroom can be made ready for the trial, jurors can make arrangements and attorneys can arrange for transportation of witnesses.
"You must not discuss this case with anyone," Taylor told the jury. "You cannot discuss anything about this case, even remotely related to this case. You must totally isolate yourself from receiving any information about this case."
The jury also includes a chef at an Italian restaurant, an accountant and a computer networking specialist. Also seated were six alternate jurors, three women and three men.
Nichols is being tried on 161 counts of first-degree murder and prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
Many of the questions asked of prospective jury members revolved around whether they could be fair and impartial but still be able to approve the full range of sentencing options should Nichols be convicted. In addition to the death penalty, possible sentences also include life in prison with or without parole.
Another issue that came up during jury selection was one prospective juror's statement that she heard people in the 350-person jury pool saying they would lie to the judge and attorneys during jury selection just to get on the panel.
Those who allegedly made the comments were not in the final group of prospective jurors. The judge asked additional questions to attempt to ensure those in the final group had not lied and the prospective juror who brought up the issue was not selected for the jury.
A federal jury found Nichols, 48, guilty in 1997 of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (search), which killed 168 people.
The state charges are for the other 160 victims and one of the victims' fetus. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but Nichols' also faces possible penalties of life in prison without parole and life with the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors allege that Nichols robbed an Arkansas gun dealer of weapons and coins that were later sold to raise money for the bomb plot.
The jury was selected from a 42-member panel. Prosecutors and defense attorneys each were allowed to strike allowed to strike 12 jurors, leaving 12 jurors and six alternates.
Prosecutors allege Nichols helped coconspirator Timothy McVeigh (search) assemble the ingredients for the bomb and build it. McVeigh was convicted on federal murder charges and sentenced to death. He was executed in 2001.