(CN) – A lawyer who claims his brother was murdered in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing cannot force the FBI to depose convicted conspirator Terry Nichols and a death-row inmate who allegedly discussed the bombing with Timothy McVeigh, who was executed as a domestic terrorist, the 10th Circuit ruled.
Jesse C. Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to the Southern Poverty Law Center and its founder, Morris Dees. His request referred to an “SPLC informant at Elohim City,” a site he describes as a “white supremacist paramilitary camp compound” in Oklahoma City run by the SPLC and the FBI. He sought to establish a link between Elohim City and the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. He also believed that the government had tortured and murdered his brother, Kenneth Michael Trentadue, after mistaking him for Richard Lee Guthrie, who allegedly helped McVeigh carry out the bombing.
When the FBI failed to produce the documents within 20 business days, Jesse Trentadue sued the agency and its field office in Oklahoma City. The FBI then released 19 redacted documents, a search that satisfied the district court.
Several months later, Trentadue sought permission to depose Nichols and David Paul Hammer, who had allegedly discussed the bombing with McVeigh before the latter’s execution in 2001.
The district court granted the motion, despite the FBI’s objections.
The Denver-based federal appeals court reversed, however, saying “there is no reason to believe that the depositions of Nichols and Hammer would produce evidence relevant to this FOIA case.”