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Nichols Railed Against Government, Jury Told

March 26, 2004|From Associated Press

McALESTER, Okla. -- A rancher who once employed bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols testified Thursday that Nichols railed about the siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, and said citizens should overthrow the government.

Tim Donahue, whose family ranch and farm is near Marion, Kan., said Nichols worked as a farmhand from March to September 1994, and seemed upset when he discussed the government siege in April 1993.

Prosecutors in Nichols' state murder trial think the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building two years later was a plot to avenge that siege. The bombing killed 168 people.

"I recall his disagreement with the government, getting involved in people's lives -- they should have left them alone," Donahue said. "He would get somewhat angry about it. There was a lot of discussion of antigovernment stuff."

Under cross-examination, Donahue said Nichols never directly advocated the violent overthrow of the government.

Donahue also testified that Nichols introduced him to Timothy J. McVeigh, although he did not know McVeigh's last name at the time.

Prosecutors allege that Nichols and McVeigh worked together to gather components for the fertilizer and fuel oil bomb used in Oklahoma City and then built the device.

Donahue said that Nichols quit his job and said he was going to work with McVeigh at gun trade shows, and that he would make twice the $300 a week Donahue paid him.

"You were surprised that this man could pay him twice what you did?" defense lawyer Creekmore Wallace asked.

"It crossed my mind, yes," Donahue said.

Prosecutors allege a man who identified himself as Mike Havens, an alias linked to Nichols, bought 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from an agriculture co-op in nearby McPherson, Kan., on Sept. 30, 1994 -- Nichols' last day on the Donahue ranch.

The fertilizer was a key ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Prosecutors also allege that Nichols burglarized a quarry near Marion, Kan., about 25 miles from his home, on Oct. 3, 1994, taking blasting caps and detonation boosters like those used in the bombing.

Nichols is serving a life prison sentence for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the bombing. The state charges are for the other victims.

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