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OKLAHOMA BOMBING DESCRIBED, PAPER SAYS.

Byline: Pete Slover The Dallas Morning News

Timothy McVeigh has described for his defense team how he bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, saying the daytime attack left a ``body count'' intended to get a point across to the government, according to confidential defense reports.

In the documents, examined by The Dallas Morning News, McVeigh implicated his former Army buddy and co-defendant Terry Nichols in the plot, but insisted that he alone drove the explosives-filled truck that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

McVeigh's lead attorney, Stephen Jones, said he could not confirm the contents of the documents.

``I don't presume to know everything everybody has said,'' Jones said. ``But none of that sounds familiar to me.''

Jones said the reports were either stolen or fakes and should not be published by paper.

Ralph Langer, executive vice president and editor of Dallas paper, said the newspaper obtained the documents legally.

Prosecutors and lawyers for Nichols had no comment, but Nichols has pleaded not guilty and denied any part in any illegal activity related to the bombing.

Both defendants face possible death sentences if convicted of murder and conspiracy. McVeigh's trial is set to begin March 31.

McVeigh's statements, culled from summaries of several 1995 interviews with a defense team member, appear to validate key elements of the prosecution's case. They describe how the two men committed robbery and burglary in the course of assembling money and materials for the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The blast killed 168 people and injured more than 500.

In a July 1995 interview, McVeigh responded to the view of an anti-government activist that he would have been a hero had he bombed the building at night, when fewer people might have been killed.

``McVeigh looked directly into my eyes and told me, `That would not have gotten the point across to the government. We needed a body count to make our point,' '' the staff member wrote in notes of the interview with McVeigh.

Prosecutors have said the bombing attack was revenge on the government for the deadly 1993 Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Texas, in which more than 80 people died.

Though McVeigh has pleaded not guilty, he has never publicly denied committing the bombing. Nowhere in the documents examined by The Dallas Morning News does he deny the attack.

The reports were written based on meetings with McVeigh between July and December 1995 at El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma, where he was held before his transfer to the Denver area in March 1996.

Because the reports were based on McVeigh's meetings with a defense team member, they are not available to prosecutors and will probably never be introduced to the jury.

The reports provide no details on whether McVeigh was accompanied by another man - the elusive John Doe No. 2 - as initially described by witnesses at the Junction City, Kan., Ryder agency that rented the truck used in the blast.

In one meeting, McVeigh disputed the account of a waitress who said she knew the identity of another man who actually drove the bomb truck.

``McVeigh again insisted that he was the one who drove the Ryder truck,'' the interviewer wrote.

The reports contain several references by McVeigh to Nichols' participation and knowledge of the bomb plot, but denied any involvement by Terry Nichols' brother. James Nichols, of Decker, Mich., was arrested after the bombing and held for a month as a material witness.

``McVeigh stated that (James) Nichols had no knowledge about the bombing as far as he knew, but that he didn't know what Terry Nichols might have told brother James,'' says one report.

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PHOTO Timothy McVeigh

Has pleaded not guilty
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 1, 1997
Words:622
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