OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy's office was disqualified from prosecuting bombing conspirator Terry Nichols on Monday by a state judge who said Macy had violated a gag order as well as the rules of professional conduct in a broadcast interview.
The case against Nichols will be assigned to another Oklahoma prosecutor.
Nichols' lawyers had argued that the district attorney was too emotionally involved in the Oklahoma City bombing case and that that could prevent Nichols, already convicted in federal court, from getting a fair trial in state court.
In an April interview with CBS, Macy had said: ''You should have been down there the first four or five days. There would be no question in your mind. ... I've sent several people to death row for killing one person. I certainly feel that death would be the appropriate punishment for killing 19 babies.''
Macy has said his comments were not improper.
But after Monday's hearing on a request by defense lawyers to remove Macy, District Judge Ray Dean Linder disagreed.
''There was a blatant violation of the rules of professional conduct by a man I have known for over 40 years,'' Linder said. ''One hundred percent compliance with the rules is not only necessary, it's demanded.''
Linder denied a request by Nichols' attorneys to sanction Macy for violating a gag order that prohibited anyone directly involved with the case from discussing it.
Macy's office plans to appeal the ruling.
Defense attorney Barbara Bergman said Macy's personal involvement in the case, including friendship with bombing victims, contributed to his ''intense, personal emotional involvement'' in prosecuting Nichols, 45, and made it impossible for Macy ''to divorce himself from his feelings''
Macy filed 160 first-degree murder charges in connection with the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson will now assign the case to another prosecutor.
Nichols, 45, was convicted in federal court and sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter and conspiracy involving the eight federal agents killed in the explosion.
Separately, a federal jury convicted co-conspirator Timothy McVeigh on murder and conspiracy charges in the bombing. He is awaiting execution.