Published November 17, 2014
A federal judge has dismissed claims by Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols that prison officials violated his constitutional rights by depriving him of a diet he requested for health and religious reasons.
U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello said in a ruling issued Monday that Nichols didn't support his claims that a diet insufficient in whole grains, fiber and raw fruits and vegetables amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and violates his right to free exercise of religion.
Nichols is serving life for conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the 1995 federal building bombing that killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of murder and executed.
Last year, Nichols sued officials at the federal Supermax prison in Florence in southern Colorado. He claimed that the prison's food amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and is against his Christian religion.
In a recent court filing, Nichols said prison officials inserted IVs into his veins and force fed him following hunger strikes this year.
Arguello agreed with U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer's recommendation in June that Nichols' Eighth Amendment claim of cruel and unusual punishment be thrown out. Nichols' alleged injury isn't serious enough to warrant such a claim, Arguello ruled.
Nichols also failed to show that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm, the judge wrote.
Arguello said Nichols didn't prove his claim that being removed from his preferred diet violated his First Amendment right of freedom of religion. It appeared that his adoption of a whole foods diet was for health rather than religious reasons, the judge said.
Besides, Nichols failed to show how the prison diet hinders his ability to practice Christianity, Arguello wrote.