Michael Fortier was freed Friday after spending more than 10 years in federal prison for crimes tied to the deadly Oklahoma City bombing. "He's been released. That's my understanding," his longtime defense attorney, Michael McGuire, told The Oklahoman at 1:30 p.m. Friday. He still must pay a $75,000 fine and will be under supervision for three years. Fortier, 37, became the star witness against his former Army buddy, bomber Timothy McVeigh, after reaching a deal with prosecutors. He also testified against bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols at Nichols' federal and state trials. Fortier was serving a 12-year sentence for never warning anyone of the bombing plot, for helping McVeigh move and sell stolen guns and for lying to the FBI after the April 19, 1995, attack. Fortier got some reduction in his time for good behavior. Fortier apparently is in a witness protection program and will live under a different name. Federal prosecutors and his attorney said they are not allowed to confirm Fortier's situation or discuss it. "The government has legitimate concerns about some of the victims," said McGuire, of Tulsa. Fortier was to be reunited with his wife, Lori, daughter, Kayla, 12, and son, Joey, 9, his attorney said. Fortier will not do any media interviews or write a book, the attorney said. The attorney would not disclose where Fortier was released. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has refused for years to discuss Fortier or his location. The Federal Bureau of Prisons did notify victims by mail this week about Fortier's release. The form stated his destination is "undisclosed." Fortier is from Kingman, Ariz. He will not return there, his attorney said. Victims and the public were split about Fortier's release. Some were outraged and said he should have stayed in prison for life. Others said he had served enough time, particularly since his testimony helped convict McVeigh. One victim, William Day, 82, of Oklahoma City, said it doesn't bother him. "As far as being guilty of doing the bombing, he wasn't," said Day, whose daughter, Diana Day, 38, was killed. "A lot of people know about things but they won't report them. ... It hurt him to serve that time." Bud Welch, who lost a daughter, Julie Welch, 23, in the attack, said: "I think it's time for him to get out. ... I don't live with that bitterness and that revenge ... any more. ... I called his mom Tuesday evening and I told her that I wanted her to know that at least some of us ... were OK with that." Fortier's mother, Irene Fortier, would not discuss her son's release Friday. She said she had gone to church Friday morning and prayed for Jannie Coverdale, the outspoken Oklahoma City woman who lost two grandsons, Aaron, 5, and Elijah, 2, in the bombing. "I prayed for her that God watches over her and gives her peace. She really needs it," Irene Fortier said in tears in a phone call from Arizona. McVeigh had described in detail to Fortier his plan to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a truck bomb. McVeigh even pointed out the building as his target when the two drove through Oklahoma City in December 1994, according to testimony at the trials. McVeigh was executed in 2001. Fortier, who at times wept while testifying, said repeatedly that he didn't think McVeigh would go through with the attack that resulted in 168 deaths. In his last time on the witness stand, on April 22, 2004, he was asked: "Have you ever given any thought to what might have happened if you hadn't run into Mr. McVeigh?" "Every day," he replied.
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What readers said
"I think he is scum of the earth. I hope his conscience keeps him up all hours of the night and he never gets a restful full night's sleep. He should be doing the same time as (Terry) Nichols."
--Sandra Taylor, 43, nurse, Vian "I don't think he should ever be released but ....there is nothing that we can do about it. Let's just move on."
--Rutha Christianson, 64, retired, Moore "He was charged, convicted and sentenced. He served his time and paid his debt. Drop it already."
--Clay Henry, 37, highway designer, Tuttle "I believe all the people involved in the Oklahoma City bombing should all rot. ... He should have warned someone and did nothing. He got a slap on the wrist for his involvement."
--Karen Gilleland, 52, unemployed, Oklahoma City