Background: Guilty On All Counts
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JIM LEHRER: Timothy McVeigh was found guilty today of bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City two years ago. The 29-year-old Gulf War veteran was convicted of all 11 counts for planning and executing the explosion that killed 168 people. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for more than 23 hours over four days in reaching its decision.
The 11 charges against McVeigh included conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, use of such a weapon, destruction of a federal property by explosives, and first degree murder for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement agents working in the building.
McVeigh faces the death penalty for the conviction. The jury will reconvene Wednesday to decide whether he will be executed or sent to prison. After the verdict, prosecutors were greeted with cheers and applause by survivors and families of the bombing victims. Lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler said he was pleased by the verdict.
JOSEPH HARTZLER: I’m not going to answer questions. All I want today is–on behalf of the entire prosecution and all the federal agencies that supported this prosecution, we thank the victims for their patience and dignity throughout this long ordeal. We’re obviously very pleased with the results. We always had confidence in our evidence, and now everyone else will have confidence in the evidence and the verdict. We’re ready to move on to the next phase. Thank you. Let’s go. (Applause and cheers)
JIM LEHRER: McVeigh’s lead defense lawyer, Stephen Jones, had this to say.
STEPHEN JONES: Ladies and gentlemen, this is very brief. Under the terms of Chief Judge Richard Matsch’s order on extrajudicial statements I cannot answer your questions or comment upon the jury’s verdict today. I simply wanted to say that we will be ready for the second stage in the morning and that I congratulate Mr. Hartzler, Mr. Ryan, and the FBI agents who are responsible for the investigation and the prosecution of this case, and their work on behalf of the United States and their presentation in court.
I regret that we cannot say anything more than that at this time but that I hope that you understand. We have visited with Mr. McVeigh. We will be working with him tonight and tomorrow for the preparation of the second stage on Wednesday. Beyond that I cannot say more. Thank you.
JIM LEHRER: Survivors and families of victims also were greeted enthusiastically by the hundreds of people who had gathered outside the Denver courthouse.
SPOKESMAN: We are overjoyed. We can’t say that we’re not. I mean, it’s a sad day when you feel that way when somebody is convicted of something like this, but he didn’t feel sorry, so I really–I can’t feel sorry for him now.
SPOKESPERSON: Whatever is meted out to him by this jury I can this was the day I had to wait for, and I feel a great sense of relief at this point that when that verdict came down, that first verdict, and guilty on the count one, I knew that we were home free and that we were going to be okay.
WOMAN: I want the man to feel very–until he draws his last breath in solitary confinement. I mean, lethal injection–putting somebody to sleep that has created such pain for so many, I mean, that’s too damn easy.
WOMAN: I’ve never doubted the way our justice system works. Sometimes we got what we want. It is still the best system that this world has, and I just feel that justice is served.