Defense Says Terry Nichols Was Set Up to Take Blame in Oklahoma City Bombing

MARCH 22, 2004 - Posted at 4:37 p.m. CDT

McALESTER, OK - His lawyer says Terry Nichols was set up to take the blame for others in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Defense attorney Brian Hermanson told jurors during opening statements in McAlester, Oklahoma today that Nichols was manipulated by Timothy McVeigh, who's been executed for his role in the deadly 1995 blast.

Hermanson says the state's case against Nichols is based on "assumptions and circumstantial evidence."

Earlier in the day, prosecutor Lou Keel said Nichols gathered material for the bomb that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building and killed 168 people.

Nichols is already serving a life sentence on federal charges in the case.  Now he faces state murder charges and could get the death penalty if convicted.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)