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No Grand Jury, Macy Asks -- Inquiry Could Affect Bombing Trial, Da Says

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By John Greiner & Ed Godfrey"Daily Oklahoman" Staff Writers, 1/14/97

Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to reverse a ruling that allows an Oklahoma City legislator to seek a county grand jury probe of the Oklahoma City bombing case.

Saying a local grand jury probe could compromise federal prosecution of the Murrah bombing, Macy asked the Supreme Court to either reverse a lower appellate court ruling or stay it until the federal trials are over.

Last month the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled state Rep. Charles Key and Glenn Wilburn, who lost two grandsons in the bombing, could circulate a grand jury petition for a probe into controversial theories that the government knew before hand about the bombing and that other suspects still are to be caught.

Key and Wilburn want an Oklahoma County grand jury to review evidence they say federal investigators ignored even though two suspects, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were indicted by a federal grand jury last year.

"I'm very disappointed," said Key, R-Oklahoma City, of this latest development Monday. "I think most people are disappointed, except for Judge Owens."

Oklahoma County District Judge Dan Owens ruled against Key and Wilburn on their grand jury petition request and their subsequent amended petition.

Wilburn's grandsons, Chase Smith, 3, and Colton Smith, 2, were killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing.

Macy acknowledged that Owens' wishes "had a lot of bearing" on his decision to appeal, but said Monday he believes the Supreme Court should decide this matter.

"I feel like this is an issue of sufficient importance that it should be decided by the Supreme Court," he said. "Their decision is not only going to effect this grand jury but every grand jury that is called in the state from now on."

Macy said he hopes the Supreme Court will determine under what circumstances a grand jury may be impaneled and what discretion local judges have in those decisions. Owens' original decision in denying Key's request was based on "sound legal reasoning," Macy said.

Owens ruled Key's "blanket allegations" were insufficient to impanel a county grand jury.

Key said he had two conversations Monday with Macy. Key, Wilburn and their attorney Mark Sanford will meet with Macy today.

"It's very, very disappointing to have a judge wanting to make law himself," Key said. "That's exactly what this is all about. This is about the people's right to have a grand jury impaneled."

Macy said he feared that having a county grand jury investigating the bombing at the same time as the trials in Denver would "have a negative impact on the federal prosecution."

Macy said he was unsure if a county grand jury was necessary, saying Key's questions about the bombing may be answered in the upcoming federal trials.

"So much of it depends on what the federal case looks like. If the federal investigation has been as thorough as it has been represented to me to be, than there would be no need for a second grand jury," Macy said.

In his petition asking the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction in the case, Macy said: "The issues presented are of monumental importance, not only for this case and the potential impact on the pending federal case, but also for grand juries that will be called throughout the state in the future."

Key's and Wilburn's grand jury petitions failed to state where or whom to inquire, Macy said.

"This is the equivalent of requesting a grand jury to investigate every unsolved crime in Oklahoma," the petition states.

The Court of Civil Appeals' decision erroneously stated it was improper for Judge Owens to take into account anything other than the petition itself when Owens ruled on it, the petition states.

"This decision flies in the face of reason that the presiding judge (Owens), in his own district, cannot take judicial notice of the events that are occurring within it. This is especially true of an event in the magnitude of the bombing, with the investigation, indictment and pending federal prosecution. Decisions are not made in a vacuum."

Macy argued for permitting a judge to use common sense in these kind of cases.

"If the presiding judge cannot utilize common sense, what is to stop a small portion of the population from repeatedly bringing requests for grand jury petitions on the same topic until they get their desired result?" the petition asked.

Even if a county grand jury is not empaneled, Macy still intends to pursue state murder charges after the bombing trial is completed.

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