"I'm really afraid he's going to walk free today and I really hate that," said one man outside the courthouse.
For more than an hour in the courtroom directly across the street from the bomb site, the lawyer for Michael Fortier argued for his client's freedom.
Michael McGuire pleaded that Fortier's sentence for involuntary manslaughter should be reduced to time served because he testified as a government witness against Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols.
Prosecutors argued Fortier could have prevented the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the most deadly act of terrorism on American soil, by simply making a phone call. Fortier admitted that he knew his friend, Timothy McVeigh, planned to plant a large bomb at the Alfred Murrah federal building but did nothing to prevent it.
|The Alfred P. Murrah federal building after the bombing.|
Van Bebber also fined Fortier $75,000, which is a $125,000 reduction of the amount the convict was originally fined.
"I don't feel that the court gave Mr. Fortier the credit for his assistance on behalf of the government," said McGuire.
Legal analysts Irven Box say it was a long shot.
"It's one of those things that if you don't try you don't get anything," said Box. "He gets a court appointed lawyer. He doesn't pay a dime for a lawyer."
As for the relatives of the 168 people killed and the 500 injured, they're still paying.
Janet Beck, a victim's relative, said "I hate to pay his room and board for awhile, but at least it keeps him from doing this to anyone else."
Â"I think 144 months is pretty cheap for 168 lives,Â" said Tom Kight, whose stepdaughter Frankie Merrell died in the blast. Â"I don't know what is a fair sentence for 168 lives. It's never going to be enough.Â"
As soon as the judge made his ruling, Michael Fortier's lawyer filed another appeal for the man who knew what was about to happen here four years ago, and did nothing.