Star Turn Disappoints Trial

  • Share
  • Read Later
DENVER: Michael Fortier was the prosecution's star witness whose riveting testimony helped convict Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But last week, Fortier proved little help in the effort to convict alleged co-conspirator Terry Nichols.

Fortier testified that while McVeigh told him in detail about the plot to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, he never once heard Nichols talk about it. He only knew of Nichols involvement because of (hearsay) statements by McVeigh.

Lead defense attorney Michael Tigar got Fortier to admit McVeigh's word wasn't trustworthy, and that McVeigh had cheated the witness out of several thousand dollars owed for helping him fence stolen weapons.

Then Tigar ripped apart Fortier's character as prosecutors watched helplessly: Fortier admitted he lied, stole and abused drugs, and that he hoped to make a million dollars by selling fictitious stories about McVeigh.

Fortier testified under a plea agreement granting him immunity from prosecution. He plead guilty to receiving stolen weapons and will be sentenced after the prosecutors in Nichols' case grade his performance on the witness stand.

Fortier said he wants more than anything to be released from prison so he can rejoin his family. Tigar responded: "And you're a man who would lie just to have a gun, aren't you, sir?" Fortier responded: "I did do that, yes."

This week prosecutors are expected to show how Nichols robbed an Arkansas gun dealer and used the proceeds to fund the bombing.