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Judge Rejects Bid to Delay Bombing Trial

March 18, 1997|From Associated Press

DENVER — The judge in the Oklahoma City bombing case Monday refused to delay Timothy J. McVeigh's trial despite a stream of news stories about his purported confession.

U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch said jury selection will begin as planned March 31.

The stories about McVeigh appeared in recent weeks in the Dallas Morning News, Playboy and Newsweek.

"Past experience with jurors and a general awareness of public attitudes about pretrial publicity in similar cases strongly suggests that these stories have had neither the wide exposure nor general acceptance that the defendant's lawyers presume," Matsch wrote.

"I have full confidence that a fair-minded jury can and will be impaneled and that those selected will return a just verdict based on the law and evidence presented to them."

McVeigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, had asked Matsch to dismiss the charges or delay the trial. "Judge Matsch has addressed these issues, and we'll hope he's right," Jones said after the ruling.

The trial was previously moved to Denver from Oklahoma City to make it easier to find an impartial jury. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols could face the death penalty if convicted of conspiracy and murder. Nichols' trial date has not been set.

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