McVeigh's attorney: Confession report 'a hoax'
February 28, 1997
DENVER (CNN) -- Timothy McVeigh told his defense team that he alone drove the Ryder truck in the Oklahoma City bombing, and decided on a daytime attack to ensure a "body count," The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.
The article, posted on the newspaper's World Wide Web site, cited confidential notes of jailhouse interviews with a defense team member in which McVeigh described how he and Terry Nichols assembled the bomb, and how they financed the attack.
It is scheduled to be published in the newspaper Saturday.
"I think it's a hoax," Stephen Jones, McVeigh's attorney, said after the story was released.
Speaking to reporters Friday evening, Jones accused the Morning News of posting the story on the Internet as a way to circumvent a move by U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch to halt the article's publication.
"They put it on the Internet because they thought we were going to come over here and try to get a temporary injunction from him and they wanted to once again slap Judge Matsch and his orders across the face and pre-empt it," Jones said.(306K/26 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Attorney decries 'irresponsible journalism'
"This is about the most irresponsible form of journalism...I'm not going to dignify it with anything but the contempt it deserves."
Jones said the Dallas Morning News had "been had" by a source who "had it in" for the newspaper.
"They bought the Brooklyn Bridge," Jones said. "Just like Der Spiegel was set up with Adolf Hitler's false autobiography, and Scribner was set up with Howard Hughes' false autobiography."
The reporter on the story, Pete Slover, referred all inquiries to the newspaper's editor.
Ralph Langer, executive vice president with the Dallas Morning News, defended the story. "We believe the documents are authentic or we wouldn't be publishing the story," he said. "We take that very, very seriously."
Both sides meet behind closed doors
Shortly after the Internet version of the report was posted, defense attorneys and prosecutors met behind closed doors at the federal courthouse in Denver. It was not immediately clear who called the meeting and whether Judge Matsch was participating.
The Morning News described the documents as summaries of meetings with McVeigh between July and December, 1995, at El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma.
Because the reports were based on McVeigh's meetings with a defense team member, they are not available to prosecutors and will probably never be introduced to the jury.
During one interview in July 1995, according to the report, McVeigh was asked about an anti-government activist's assertion that he would have been a hero if he had bombed the building at night when fewer people would have been killed.
McVeigh insisted that he drove the truck
"Mr. McVeigh looked directly into my eyes and told me, `That would not have gotten the point across to the government. We needed a body count to make our point,' " the staff member wrote.
At another point, McVeigh disputed a waitress' claim that she knew the identity of another man who actually drove the bomb truck, the paper said.
"Mr. McVeigh again insisted that he was the one who drove the Ryder truck," the interviewer wrote.
McVeigh is scheduled to go on trial March 31 in Denver on murder and conspiracy charges. Nichols will be tried later. If convicted, they could receive the death penalty for the April, 1995, attack, which killed 168 people and injured more than 500.
Robbery bankrolled the bombing
The government has estimated that about 4,800 pounds of fertilizer went into the bomb, but McVeigh reportedly told the interviewer the device was built with 5,400 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer -- purchased for $540 -- blended with about $3,000 worth of high-powered racing fuel.
"Mr. McVeigh states that 108 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer were mixed with the nitro fuel purchased by Terry Nichols," the interviewer wrote.
McVeigh said they bankrolled the bombing in part with the November, 1994, robbery of Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore. "Mr. McVeigh stated that he laid out the plan and that Terry Nichols alone broke into Moore's house and stole the weapons," a report says.
McVeigh's account of what was done with the Moore loot closely tracked a statement given in August, 1995, by Michael Fortier, a former friend and Army associate and now a key witness against him. Fortier pleaded guilty to helping transport the stolen weapons and failing to warn the government of the bomb plot.
McVeigh described how he and Fortier picked up the guns from Council Grove, Kansas, where Nichols had stored them. He said Fortier took the weapons to sell in Kingman, Arizona, where both men once lived and worked.
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