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AP file photo / Donna Mcwilliam OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A Utah attorney investigating the death of his younger brother at a federal penitentiary in Oklahoma City can conduct a videotaped interview of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled Thursday that Jesse Trentadue can also question and videotape convicted killer David Paul Hammer, who was on death row with bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Trentadue is working a theory that Kenneth Trentadue was killed at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center in 1995 during an interrogation gone awry. He contends authorities mistook his brother for McVeigh's "John Doe 2" -- a suspect never conclusively identified -- who he believes was bank robber Richard Guthrie.
Kenneth Trentadue was a convicted bank robber picked up on a parole violation when, two days later, he was found hanging in his cell from a bedsheet. His death was officially ruled a suicide, but his body also bore 41 ugly wounds and bruises, and his brother believes he died from a beating.
Jesse Trentadue's search for a full explanation has led him to open a new line of inquiry into the Oklahoma City bombing. He is suing for FBI teletypes to support his belief that federal authorities were tipped to McVeigh's plans, but failed to stop the bombing and let others walk away from prosecution.
Trentadue, a Salt Lake City insurance lawyer, said Saturday the videotaped testimony of Nichols and Hammer could strengthen his legal demands for more FBI documents. "What I believe will come out of this is a detailed description of how the plot developed and how informants were reporting back to the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco," he said.
Nichols is serving a life sentence at the maximum-security federal penitentiary in Colorado for his part in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. McVeigh was executed for the deaths of eight federal agents in 2001. "The whole objective here is to get to the truth about my brother's murder," Trentadue said. "I think it's a win for a lot of people, not just for me."
Nichols denied involvement in the bombing for years but after his 2004 state trial he admitted to the FBI, his family and Trentadue that he helped McVeigh.
Hammer claims McVeigh revealed the identities of accomplices while the two were imprisoned almost two years together on federal death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.
McVeigh told biographers and defense lawyers that only Nichols helped him. He called Hammer's claim a "scam" and called Hammer "a big, fat rat."
Nichols and Hammer already have given Trentadue written declarations. The judge ruled they can be interviewed on tape "so long as these individuals are willing to cooperate."
Information from: The Oklahoman
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)