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Key Witness in Oklahoma City Bombing Trials to be Released

A key government witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trials is being released from prison Friday to the dismay of survivors and relatives of victims of the attack. The 1995 bombing killed 168 people, wounded hundreds more and is the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

Michael Fortier was the government's star witness in the trials that led to murder convictions for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

McVeigh was executed in 2001 for carrying out the 1995 truck bomb attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Terry Nichols is serving a sentence of life in prison.

Michael Fortier pleaded guilty to four criminal counts in connection with the bomb plot and agreed to testify against both McVeigh and Nichols.

Many of the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing and relatives of those who died are upset with Fortier's release from prison. They argue that Fortier should have received a longer jail sentence because he knew about the attack in advance but did nothing to stop it.

Kay Ice Fulton lost her brother Paul in the bombing.

"He is going to be a free man and living who knows where and going on with his life," she said. "It breaks my heart. It just astounds me that this man can be out."

Jannie Coverdale lost two grandsons in the 1995 attack.

"He will be able to hug his wife," she said. "There are a lot of people who will not be able to hug and sit down and talk to their spouses. Their spouses are dead."

Fortier served about 10.5 years of his 12-year prison term.

Fortier's lawyer, Michael McGuire, is aware of the anger over his release and says his client intends to lead a quiet life with his family.

"The anger is misplaced," he said. "Mr. Fortier has done his sentence, completed the term of punishment that he received. I think Mr. Fortier and his wife and his family are going to spend time together wherever they can and keep a low profile."

In his testimony, Michael Fortier said he and his wife, Lori, had heard Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols discussing the bomb plot nine months before it happened.

Fortier also transported stolen weapons that helped to finance the plot and testified that he accompanied McVeigh on a trip to look over the federal building four months before the attack.