By: Tim Talley, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Defense attorneys objected Monday to allowing cameras in or near the courtroom where Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols will be tried on 161 counts of first-degree murder.
Nichols’ attorneys said allowing cameras in the courtroom would violate his right to a fair trial, set to begin March 1.
Prosecutors have also asked District Judge Steven Taylor to reject media requests to allow cameras in the courtroom, noting that a similar request to televise Nichols’ preliminary hearing was rejected by a state appeals court.
Unless permitted by a judge, cameras or other recording equipment is prohibited in or near Oklahoma courtrooms. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday.
If denied courtroom access, media outlets asked that cameras be permitted outside the courtroom.
Nichols’ attorneys said in legal papers “the presence of cameras anywhere in the courthouse” could affect the testimony of witnesses and make it harder to pick a jury.
Prosecutors added that many of the state’s witnesses do not want to be photographed in connection with their testimony.
Nichols, 48, was convicted of federal charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and sentenced to life in prison for the death of eight federal agents.
He now faces 161 state counts of first-degree murder for the 160 other victims of the bombing, plus a fetus whose mother was killed. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Nichols was at home in Kansas the day the bomb exploded. But authorities allege he helped Timothy McVeigh pack the bomb inside a Ryder truck the day before.
McVeigh was sentenced to death and executed in June 2001.