A federal judge has agreed to hear arguments from bombing suspect Terry Nichols that the FBI violated his rights while interrogating him, illegally searched his home and mistreated his wife.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch also said he would schedule a hearing on co-defendant Timothy McVeigh's allegations that evidence was mishandled at an FBI laboratory."It's dependent, of course, in part on what forensic opinion is going to be offered by the government," the judge said.
Matsch, however, refused to hear McVeigh's claims that FBI agents misled judges who issued search warrants, particularly by omitting conflicting descriptions of a suspect purported to be McVeigh.
Nichols' allegations against the FBI will be part of a three-day hearing, beginning June 26, on defense requests to suppress evidence.
McVeigh and Nichols face the death penalty if convicted of federal murder and conspiracy charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing, which killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others.
Nichols' lawyer, Michael Tigar, claims FBI agents violated Nichols' rights during a nine-hour interview in the days after the bombing.
"He was lied to," Tigar told Matsch. "He was put in a room. He was interrogated until after midnight."
During the session, Nichols admitted he was with McVeigh in Oklahoma City three days before the bombing, lent McVeigh his pickup the day before the bombing, and cleaned out a storage locker at McVeigh's request.
Tigar also challenged evidence taken from Nichols' home, contending the FBI lacked authority for the searches and held Nichols' wife, Marife, "illegally . . . incommunicado" for seven weeks along with her 22-month-old daughter.
"She might as well have been drugged," Tigar said.
Prosecutor Sean Connelly said the searches were conducted legally but agreed that a hearing was needed to resolve the issues.