Ex-Army veterans killed 168 people in deadliest US terror attack until 9/11

Wednesday marks 17 years since one of the Oklahoma City bomb makers was finally found guilty of 161 murder charges.

US Army veteran Terry Nichols was sentenced to life for his part in the US's deadliest domestic terror attack.

His accomplice Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 after the blast killed 168 people and leaving hundreds more injured on April 19 1995.

McVeigh was arrested by a traffic cop just 90 minutes after he parked a truck packed with explosives and detonated it at 9.02am.

The area outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was left a warzone.

Investigators soon found the truck's rear axle in the rubble, linking the far-right extremists to the atrocity.

On June 2, 1997, McVeigh was convicted on all 11 counts against him, and on August 14 the death penalty was formally imposed.

But it took two jury trials before Nichols was finally read out his guilty verdicts on Wednesday May 26 2004.

A federal jury took 41 hours over six days to decide it could not convict him after his defense team argued he was a fall guy for other conspirators.

But a state jury took just five hours to find him guilty on all charges including 161 counts of murder.

He sat stone-faced and stared straight ahead as Judge Steven Taylor announced the guilty verdicts.

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Nichols' mother, Joyce Wilt, and sister, Suzanne McDonnell, seated in the courtroom near Nichols, also showed no emotion as he was sent down.

And a female juror wiped tears from her eyes as the verdicts were read and several others appeared to have been crying.

Prosecutors beamed as survivors and members of victims' families hugged and congratulated them.

"I'm just so thrilled for these families," said a tearful Diane Leonard, whose husband, Secret Service agent Donald Leonard, died in the bombing.

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"After nine years, the families who lost loved ones finally have justice."

Two days after the bombing an eyewitness description led authorities to charge McVeigh.

They had found him already in jail as he was stopped 90 minutes after the bombing for a traffic violation and then arrested for unlawfully carrying a handgun.

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Nichols on the same day surrendered in Herington, Kansas, and both men were found to be members of a radical right-wing survivalist group based in Michigan.

On August 8, Michael Fortier, who knew of McVeigh’s plan to bomb the federal building, agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Two days later, McVeigh and Nichols were indicted on charges of murder and unlawful use of explosives.

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The following year, Fortier, who had met McVeigh in the Army, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn authorities about the Oklahoma City bombing plan.

Fortier was released from prison in 2007 and entered the witness protection program.

McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck loaded with a diesel-fuel-fertilizer bomb outside the Murrah Building on the two-year anniversary of a siege where 75 members of a Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco, Texas.

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