A former military judge was assigned Friday to the trial of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two former Army buddies charged in the Oklahoma City bombing.
U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley works in the federal courthouse across the street from where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood. He was not in the courthouse at the time of the blast, but one of his staffers suffered a minor injury from flying glass.McVeigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, said he has "the highest respect for Judge Alley professionally and personally." But he said he may ask that Alley be removed from the case because he was too close to the bombing.
Alley, 63, a retired Army brigadier general, was nominated to the court by President Reagan and confirmed by the Senate in 1985. He was a military judge from 1968 to 1975, serving in Vietnam, Hawaii and Falls Church, Va.
In 1973, he upheld the murder conviction of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. in the massacre of civilians in the Vietnam village of My Lai, according to the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. Several officers and enlisted men were tried for war crimes, but Calley was the only one convicted.
Lawyers who have had contact with Alley consider him to be a "stickler for procedural rules," the almanac said. He also is "an active participant and won't let lawyers play dirty tricks," it said.
Alley's assignment was announced by U.S. Magistrate Ronald Howland, who plans to hear the arraignments for Nichols and McVeigh scheduled for Tuesday. No trial date has been set.
Nichols and McVeigh were indicted Thursday in the April 19 blast that killed 168 people.