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JURY NEARLY SELECTED FOR NICHOLS

After four weeks of jury selection in the second Oklahoma City bombing trial, attorneys predicted that opening statements could begin as early as this week.

"We're towards the end of the process," said Michael Tigar, attorney for defendant Terry L. Nichols.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch qualified 17 prospective jurors Friday, including a mine security officer who lost his right hand in a homemade bomb explosion and a retired government worker who theorized Nichols was a pawn in Timothy J. McVeigh's plot to blow up the federal building. So far, 58 have qualified.

Matsch and attorneys for both sides have been working to complete a pool of 64, from which they will seat 12 jurors and six alternates.

Nichols, 42, turned himself in when he heard his name broadcast two days after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168.

He faces the death penalty if convicted of murder, conspiracy and weapons-related counts. McVeigh, formerly of Pendleton, N.Y., was convicted of identical charges in June and sentenced to die.

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