Federal prosecutors want more than a dozen guns belonging to Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols destroyed rather than turned over to his ex-wife.
Federal officials argue Nichols should not be allowed to profit from his crimes by receiving an inflated value for the property due to his notoriety.
“The question is whether he has the capability still that most of us would, that if I have property that I can’t keep I can give it to my kids, in this case I believe his wife," said Brady Henderson, attorney and legal director of the ACLU. "The question is: Who has a claim on it first? Does the wife have claim on it, or does the government."
Nichols is serving life in prison for helping Timothy McVeigh with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Nichols said the guns seized were not used in the crime but for his gun-show business.
He said he needs the money from the guns to pay back child support.
Officials said Nichols has not submitted documentation for a child support order.
Federal authorities said the guns should not be released from FBI custody, because someone might use them in “a copycat crime.”
Instead, federal officials want to destroy the guns and give Nichols credit for their fair market value of $7,000.
Nichols would not keep the money.
It would go toward the 14.5 million he owes in restitution.
“At the end of that, I think a judge is going to say, 'Okay, Mr. Nichols, these guns are your property. They have value. You have a $14 million restitution bill that, otherwise, is not going to get paid very fast. So, I’m going to allow that value applied to that restitution,” Henderson said.
A decision on the dispute about how to dispose of the guns is in the hands of senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who presided in Denver over the federal trials of Nichols and McVeigh.