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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

Two jurors dismissed from Terry Nichols’ sentencing

Judge warns others not to discuss case outside of jury room

June 3, 2004

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— Two members of the jury considering sentencing for Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols were dismissed by the judge Wednesday and were replaced by the last two remaining alternate jurors.

Judge Steven Taylor did not explain what the two jurors did wrong, but he strongly told the rest of the panel not to discuss the case outside of regular jury deliberations.

"Do not discuss sentencing," Taylor said following a one-hour closed meeting with prosecution and defense attorneys. "Do not allow anyone to discuss it with you."

One of the jurors dismissed Wednesday was the jury foreman during the first phase of the trial, Wayne Gates. Taylor ordered Gates and the other dismissed juror, Norma Jean Carrion, not to discuss the case until the trial is over.

The trial began with 12 jurors and six alternates, but before the opening of testimony, three jurors were excused because they were distant relatives to a member of the prosecutor's staff. A fourth juror was excused last month after he had a heart attack.

Nichols was convicted last week of 161 first-degree murder charges in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. Now, the jury is considering whether he should be executed or given a sentence of life in prison.

The sentencing phase of the trial had begun Tuesday. In opening statements, prosecutors argued that Nichols should be put to death for his part in the attack, while the defense urged jurors to consider all sentencing options in the case, including life in prison. More than two dozen witnesses testified about loved ones they lost.

Testimony continued Wednesday. Jeannine Gist, whose lost her daughter, Karen Gist Carr, fought back tears as she recalled Carr's energy and love of sports.

Members of jurors also dabbed tears from their eyes as Gist testified that her daughter has appeared to her in dreams.

"I should have gone before she did," said Gist, choking with emotion. "I'm her mother. I just should have gone first."

Peggie Pietrowicz, left, hugs her sister, Lynne Gist, during a
lunch break in the penalty phase of the state murder trial of
convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, in
McAlester, Okla. Pietrowicz and Gist, shown Wednesday, lost their
younger sister, Karen Gist Carr, in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Peggie Pietrowicz, left, hugs her sister, Lynne Gist, during a lunch break in the penalty phase of the state murder trial of convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, in McAlester, Okla. Pietrowicz and Gist, shown Wednesday, lost their younger sister, Karen Gist Carr, in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Jacquelyn Bowman, who lost her father, David Jack Walker, an engineer for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, glared at Nichols as she read from a statement in which she said her father "was everything to me." Nichols stared back at Bowman.

"Many times I have wished that I could go to sleep and not wake up so I wouldn't have to deal with this emotional pain," she said.

Constance Favorite, whose daughter, Air Force Airman Lakesha Levy, was killed, brought jurors and spectators to tears as she recalled the last telephone conversation they had two days before the bombing.

"Lakesha was a very proud mother. She would have done anything for her son and her husband," she said.

Thomas Richard Hall of the General Services Administration, who was seriously injured in the bombing, testified it felt as if he was being electrocuted as wiring and other debris fell down around him.

"The pain would get so great I would pass out," he said.

Nichols is already serving life in prison on federal bombing charges for the deaths of eight federal agents in the bombing Oklahoma prosecutors brought the state murder charges for the other 160 people who died and one fetus whose mother was killed in the explosion. They hope to win a death sentence.

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