McALESTER, Okla. – Defense attorneys outlined their case to spare the life of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (search), saying they planned to question prison guards and family members of bombing victims.
During a hearing Thursday before judge Steven Taylor (search), defense attorneys said the prison guards will testify that Nichols has been a model prisoner in federal and state prisons and jails since he was arrested for the April 19, 1995, bombing.
Jurors may also hear about logs from the Oklahoma County Jail, where Nichols was held prior to the start of his trial. The logs reportedly show that Nichols frequently read passages from the Bible in his cell.
Defense attorneys also said they plan to question members of bombing victims' families who are opposed to the death penalty.
One of them is Kathy Wilburn, whose grandsons, Chase and Colton Smith, were among the bombing's 168 victims. Defense attorney Brian Hermanson said Wilburn has met Nichols and has become friends with members of his family. Wilburn also frequently corresponds with Nichols.
The defense will begin presenting evidence to Nichols' 12-member jury on Monday, Hermanson said.
Nichols faces possible penalties of life in prison or death by injection for the bombing of the Oklahoma city federal building. He was convicted of 161 counts of first-degree murder on May 26, and already is serving life in prison on federal convictions for the deaths of eight federal agents in the bombing.
Oklahoma prosecutors charged Nichols for the deaths of the other 160 people and one victim's fetus.
Prosecutors rested their sentencing case against Nichols on Thursday with tearful testimony from the families of bombing victims, including a man whose wife died in the blast.
Hermanson objected when James Texter Jr. read portions of his written statement to jurors.
"How has the bombing impacted me?" Texter asked. "Mr. Nichols took away my wife ... ."
Victoria Texter worked in the Federal Employees Credit Union (search) on the building's third floor.
Taylor told jurors to disregard the direct reference to Nichols, which he said prosecutors and defense attorneys had edited out of Texter's statement.
Texter also said he and the couple's son, who was 15 when the bombing occurred, struggled to cope following his wife's death.
"Vicki was not only my wife, she was my best friend and confidante," he said.