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Jurors in Nichols' State Trial Hear Blast

An audiotape from an agency across from the site captures the roar of the Oklahoma City bombing and part of the ensuing chaos.

April 23, 2004|From Associated Press

McALESTER, Okla. — Jurors in the state murder trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols heard the recorded explosion Thursday and the panicked screams of people caught in it.

One juror shielded her face as prosecutors played the audiotape that captured the sound of the 4,000-pound homemade bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people.

Prosecutors have charged Nichols with 161 counts of first-degree murder for his role in the bombing, and are seeking the death penalty.

Cynthia Lou Klaver, an attorney for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, said the tape was turned on at 9 a.m. on April 19, 1995, for an administrative hearing at the agency's office across the street from the federal building.

Klaver is heard on the tape about two minutes later:

"Basically there are four elements I have to receive information regarding ... " -- and she is cut off by a deafening roar lasting several seconds, followed by the sound of falling debris and the screams of people trying to evacuate.

"Everybody get out of here! Now!" someone yells. Another person screams: "What's going on? What's going on?"

Once Klaver made her way outside, she was stunned by what she saw.

"It looked like a war zone," she testified. "There were people on the curb sitting there bleeding."

Prosecutors showed photographs of the aftermath of the bombing in which Klaver is seen searching for her co-workers.

In other testimony Thursday, defense attorneys questioned Michael Fortier for a third straight day, drawing parallels between Nichols' and Fortier's relationships with executed bomber Timothy J. McVeigh and their involvement in the bomb plot. McVeigh was executed in 2001.

Nichols already is serving a life sentence on federal convictions for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the bombing.

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