OKLAHOMA CITY Ending months of speculation about whether he would drop the case, the new district attorney in Oklahoma City said Wednesday that he will prosecute bombing conspirator Terry Nichols on state murder charges that could bring the death penalty.
Dist. Atty. Wes Lane said he will pursue the 160 first-degree murder counts brought by his predecessor two years ago.
"Accountability with the laws of Oklahoma demand that we stay the course," Lane said at the site of the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people.
Nichols, 46, was convicted in federal court of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter and is serving a life sentence. But he has appealed, and Lane said he wants to make sure Nichols does not escape punishment.
"I simply do not know what might loom out there on the legal horizon which would place Terry Nichols' federal conviction in jeopardy," he said. "The interests of the people of the state of Oklahoma cannot be vindicated by the blind reliance upon the federal government or Terry Lynn Nichols."
The state murder charges, covering the 160 victims, including 19 children, who were not part of his federal trial, were filed in 1999 by Dist. Atty. Bob Macy, who was removed from the case last year after explaining to the media how he wanted to put Nichols to death.
Lane took over when Macy retired in June. He had considered dropping the charges, citing the expense and the effects of another trial on bombing survivors and members of victims' families.