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MCVEIGH'S FATHER HOPES JURY WILL SPARE NICHOLS' LIFE

Bill McVeigh, father of Timothy J. McVeigh, the man convicted of bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, hopes a Denver jury will be merciful and spare the life of Terry Nichols.

Nichols was convicted Tuesday of charges connected to the April 19, 1995, bombing, which killed 168 people. Unlike Timothy McVeigh, who is currently fighting a death sentence, Nichols was spared conviction on the charge of murder.

The jury instead found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Bill McVeigh took that as a hopeful sign that Nichols might have a chance of receiving a penalty of less than death.

"I don't really believe in the death penalty," Bill McVeigh said Tuesday night shortly after learning of the Nichols' jury verdicts. "It sounds like the jury was fair to him."

Because Nichols, whom prosecutors insisted shared responsibility for blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a truck bomb, was found guilty of a conspiracy to use a bomb to blow up the federal building, his trial on Monday will enter a penalty phase. Jurors will decide whether he should live or die.

Bill McVeigh said he believes the lawyers for Nichols put up a better defense than the one offered by Stephen Jones, the lead attorney at Timothy McVeigh's trial, which ended last June.

Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of 11 counts of murder and conspiracy charges in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

"They (Nichols' lawyers) had a bit more to work with," Bill McVeigh said. "Jones started out OK, but I was dissatisfied with him in the end."

Timothy McVeigh, 29, a former Pendleton resident, succeeded in having Jones thrown off the case for the appeal of his conviction, which is now underway.

McVeigh and others close to the case have said Jones was more interested in writing a book about the trial and securing a place in history than in directing his full energies to leading the defense team. Jones has dismissed those claims, saying they are without merit.

Attorneys seeking to overturn the death penalty against Timothy McVeigh are Richard Burr and Robert Nigh Jr. Also assisting McVeigh is attorney Randy Coyne.

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