DENVER -- The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday vacated Michael Fortier's 12-year prison term stemming from the Oklahoma City bombing, ruling incorrect guidelines were used to determine the prison term.
A three-judge panel ordered a new sentencing hearing for Fortier, who pleaded guilty to failing to alert authorities to the bomb plot, helping Timothy McVeigh sell stolen weapons and lying to FBI agents about the bombing.The judges ruled the federal district judge who sentenced Fortier erred when he used guidelines for first-degree murder sentences in determining the length of Fortier's term.
They said those guidelines can only be used if evidence demonstrated that Fortier acted with malice, or if the crime fell under felony-murder rules, and "neither circumstance is present in this case."
The court also rejected prosecution arguments that Fortier already received consideration for his cooperation with the government when he got a reduced sentence.
Fortier's lawyers said McVeigh and Nichols never told their client how they planned to use the money raised from selling weapons at gun shows. The 1995 blast killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others, the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.