McALESTER, Okla. – The jury in the Terry Nichols' (search) murder trial ended a second day of deliberations Thursday without deciding whether the Oklahoma City bombing conspirator should live or die.
Jurors got the case after prosecutors urged them to hold Nichols accountable by imposing the death penalty. If jurors cannot reach a decision, Judge Steven Taylor (search) will be required to sentence Nichols to life in prison.
"We are all accountable for what we do," prosecutor Sandra Elliott (search) said in closing arguments this week. "There is nothing that can mitigate the deaths of 161 people."
Deliberations were to resume Friday, the third anniversary of the execution of Timothy McVeigh (search), Nichols' co-conspirator in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building.
Prosecutors argued the death penalty is justified under Oklahoma law because Nichols knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person. The defense argued that the bombing was McVeigh's obsession and that there was no evidence Nichols intended to hurt anyone.
Nichols' jury has already taken longer to decide his sentence than the approximately five hours it took to convict him on 161 state counts of first-degree murder. Victims' family members who favor the death penalty said they are concerned the jury is taking longer to decide Nichols' sentence.
"It's scary," said Donnetta Apple, whose brother, Thomas Hawthorne, was killed in the explosion.
But "no matter what, we've already won a victory," she said, referring to Nichols' conviction on the murder charges.
"I didn't think it would take this long," said Darlene Welch, whose 4-year-old niece, Ashley Megan Eckles, died in the blast. "It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as they come back with the right answer."
Nichols is already serving a life sentence in the deaths of eight federal agents in the blast. The state trial began March 1 for the others killed in the explosion, including the fetus of one of the victims.