Nichols Gets 2nd Life Sentence

More than nine years after the Oklahoma City bombing, Terry Nichols faces a life prison sentence for the second time for his role in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

Nichols, sentenced to life without parole in 1998 on federal bombing charges, was scheduled be sentenced on state murder charges Monday. A jury convicted him on 161 counts of first-degree murder, but Nichols was spared the death penalty when jurors could not agree on a sentence.

Before Nichols is sentenced, he may make a public statement for the first time since he went on trial for the state murder charges, and that's about the only surprise in this hearing, says Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, "and, if so, whether he is going to say anything that sheds light on the bomb plot.

"He cannot be sentenced to death by this judge; he almost certainly will be sentenced to life without parole, and the judge almost certainly will have some harsh things to say about Nichols' role in the bombing," Cohen says.

Nichols' attorneys have said he was considering making a statement at his sentencing hearing. He has a legal right to address the court to plead for mercy, express remorse or apologize to victims.

He never testified during his state and federal trials and said nothing after he was convicted in federal court, and Cohen says he would be surprised if Nichols does make a statement.

"He is nowhere near as chatty as his fellow bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh was and I'm not sure that Nichols' professed hatred for the federal government dovetails with a need to explain his conduct, especially in court," Cohen says.

Bomber Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges and executed on June 11, 2001.

Nichols was previously convicted on federal involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy charges for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers who were among the 168 victims killed during the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Jurors at his federal trial also deadlocked on whether to sentence Nichols to death.

The state charges are for the other 160 victims and one victim's fetus. Jurors could not consider a death sentence on the count involving the fetus and sentenced Nichols to life without the possibility of parole for that count.

Nichols will have 10 days after he is sentenced to appeal his conviction and sentence, but Nichols' defense attorneys have urged him not to appeal.

Lead defense attorney Brian Hermanson said a successful appeal that invalidated the conviction and sentence could result in a second state trial and another attempt to secure a death penalty.

The chief prosecutor, Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, has said he expects Nichols to be returned to federal custody once he is sentenced and the deadline for filing an appeal expires.

A date for his return to federal prison has not been set.