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Oklahoma Bomb Plot Witness to Be Freed

January 19, 2006|From Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The government's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing case is looking forward to spending time with family after serving his sentence, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons this week wrote to victims of the 1995 bombing and relatives of those killed, informing them that Michael Fortier would be released from custody Friday.

Fortier, taken into custody in August 1995, was sentenced in a plea deal to 12 years in prison. Good-behavior time credits are allowing him to get out now, said his lawyer, Michael McGuire.

"Essentially, he has served about 85% of his sentence, which was all he was supposed to serve. He got no special favors," McGuire said.

Fortier received three years of supervised release under federal sentencing guidelines, McGuire said.

"I think he's in a very strong, upbeat mood to be with his family, and is looking forward to spending very personal time with them and getting resettled with them," McGuire said.

Fortier and his wife, Lori, knew about Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols' plot to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, an explosion that killed 168 people.

The Arizona couple testified against McVeigh, who was executed in 2001, and Nichols, who has been sentenced to life in prison. Lori Fortier was granted immunity from prosecution.

Martin Cash, a now-retired Veterans Affairs employee who lost an eye in the blast, was among the victims who had filed a petition to testify at Fortier's 1998 sentencing.

"I understand the plea bargain, which was in order to get him to testify, but I think the plea bargain should have been, 'We'll give you life instead of giving you the death penalty,' " Cash said. "I'm just sorry he's getting out."

McGuire said the Fortiers remained married and that she stayed in Arizona. McGuire would not comment on whether Michael Fortier was part of a witness protection program.

"I think there are a lot of people that want to target him, but I'm not sure where Michael and his family will be -- where it's safe for him to be," McGuire said.

McGuire and federal officials declined to reveal where Fortier was incarcerated. As for Fortier's future, McGuire could only speculate.

"I don't think he's got all the answers yet," McGuire said. "He needs to spend some time with family to get those."

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