10th Circuit asked to block Terry Nichols deposition

Thursday, November 6, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI has asked a federal appeals court to block a Utah lawyer’s bid to videotape interviews with Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and another inmate.

U.S. attorneys say they disagree with U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball’s decision made in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The attorneys say the act covers records, not people.

Kimball ruled in September that Jesse Trentadue, who is trying to learn more about the federal investigation into the 1995 bombing, can take a deposition from Nichols and from convicted killer David Paul Hammer, a death-row acquaintance of bomber Timothy McVeigh for two years before McVeigh was executed in 2001.

Kimball’s decision was the second time he ordered the government to cooperate with interviews of Nichols at a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., and of Hammer, who is on death row in Terre Haute, Ind. The FBI had asked the judge to reconsider his original 2007 order. Kimball overruled that request on Sept. 25, along with the government’s objection to the interviews for security reasons.

U.S. attorneys on Nov. 4 asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the case.

Trentadue says he’s trying to find evidence that can explain his brother’s death in an Oklahoma City prison in the months after the bombing. He believes Kenneth Trentadue, a convicted bank robber who was picked up on a parole violation, was mistaken for an associate of McVeigh and killed in an interrogation gone awry.

Kenneth Trentadue’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging, but his body also bore 41 ugly wounds and bruises that his brother says could have come only from a beating.

Kimball’s order capped a long-running search by Trentadue for documents revealing what federal agents knew before and after the bombing that gutted a federal office building and killed 168. The judge closed Trentadue’s FOI lawsuit with the Sept. 25 order, but Trentadue said he hoped the prison interviews would yield more clues on other FBI teletypes and memos he could order.

Trentadue said Nichols and Hammer were willing to cooperate, the only condition set by the judge for the interviews.

Tags: , ,