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Sources: FBI probe of McVeigh leads to race track


April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 10:50 p.m. EST

DENVER (CNN) -- The second week of jury selection in the trial of Timothy McVeigh ended Friday, and sources said the FBI is trying to find out where he may have bought racing fuel allegedly used in the Oklahoma City blast.

Agents checked hotels near a drag race track in Texas where agents believe McVeigh bought three 55-gallon drums of volatile racing fuel six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, sources told CNN Friday.

The sources also said FBI agents are seeking videotapes shot during a hot rod race in late October 1994 as evidence that McVeigh and possibly his ex-Army buddy and alleged co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, were present.

McVeigh and Nichols are charged with murder and conspiracy in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building that killed 168 people. Nichols will be tried later, and both men face the death penalty if convicted.

The FBI believes the bomb used in the blast was made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel or racing fuel, or a combination of the two, CNN has learned.

Two FBI agents visited the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, within the past month -- March 18 or 19. They asked whether McVeigh purchased nitromethane fuel during the 1994 Chief Nationals hot rod race that drew a crowd of 120,000, a spokesman for the facility told CNN Friday.

The fuel is manufactured and sold by VP Racing Fuels of San Antonio, which was the only fuel vendor in attendance at the event, the spokesman said.

Playboy free-lancer subpoenaed


The FBI visit followed publication of an article in Playboy magazine reporting that McVeigh asked at the track about buying racing fuel.

Ben Fenwick, the free-lance writer who wrote the article describing how McVeigh allegedly planned the bombing, was served with a subpoena Friday demanding that he turn over the documents he used to write his article.

It was one of three articles published before the start of McVeigh's trial, in which McVeigh was quoted as admitting he planted the bomb. Playboy said its article corroborated an earlier report in the Dallas Morning News. McVeigh's chief attorney, Stephen Jones, has denied that McVeigh confessed and has condemned the articles.

Judge annoyed during questioning

Jury questioning plodded along Friday, proceeding to the 61st prospective juror, an environmental engineer who has had training in the chemical testing and clean-up of explosives.

In federal death penalty cases, potential jurors who are unalterably opposed to capital punishment cannot be seated. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said the final 64 prospective jurors must be "death penalty qualified."

Sources said the approved jury pool is slightly more than half of the total of 64 needed from which to pick 12 jurors and six alternates.

As he left the courthouse, defense attorney Stephen Jones wouldn't be that specific, but told reporters, "It'll start before the end of the month."


The judge is conducting in secret the sessions to screen out jurors who are questioned in open court.

At one point, Matsch criticized a prospective juror for giving vague answers on the jury questionnaire and for being flippant in her responses to questions she was asked in court.

The juror gave conflicting answers to many of the questions, including those about her feelings on the death penalty. She told the judge she wants to be a panelist for the trial, and one of her children wanted her to be a juror so she could be famous.

Following lunch, the same woman, whose ex-husband and father were police officers, said she thought federal agents should have brought the 1993 Waco standoff to an end earlier -- and she said she thought O.J. Simpson was guilty of murder and his trial lasted too long.

She also said she was aware of another published report of McVeigh confessing to the bombing -- in the Dallas Morning News -- but did not believe the story was credible.

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