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McVeigh trial opening statements begin


Early witnesses to re-create bomb scene

April 24, 1997
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EDT

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DENVER (CNN) -- The U.S. government opened its murder-conspiracy case against Timothy McVeigh on Thursday, intending to use vivid sounds and images to convey the death and destruction from the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Hartzler began his remarks by focusing on the Ryder truck used to carry the bomb that detonated outside the Oklahoma City federal building on April 19, 1995. A total of 168 people were killed and more than 500 were injured.

"The truck was there to impose the will of Timothy McVeigh on the rest of America and to do so by premeditated violence and terror, by murdering innocent men, women and children, in hopes of seeing blood flow in the streets of America," Hartzler said.

Prosecutors intend to show McVeigh's anti-government fervor led him to bomb the building in retaliation for the 1993 government siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.

McVeigh, who turned 29 Wednesday, faces the death penalty if convicted.

His attorney, Stephen Jones, planned to assert that the government's case was flawed from the beginning, as investigators started collecting evidence amid the confusion of the huge blast.

Both sides should take at least half a day to present opening statements.

Earlier in court, McVeigh said "good morning" to the seven men and five women of the jury, as all the participants were introduced to the panel.

The prosecution's first witness will be a woman expected to authenticate a chilling audiotape of the bombing.


Lou Klaver, an attorney, was at a meeting in a building across the street from the Alfred Murrah Federal Building. She recorded the meeting. The tape, which includes the sound of the explosion, will be played in court.

Her voice can be heard on the tape, followed by sounds of concrete and metal being ripped apart.

Other prosecution witnesses who may testify this week include:

  • Randy Norfleet, a former Marine recruiter who was outside the federal building when it blew up and saw a Ryder truck beforehand. The government claims McVeigh used a rented Ryder truck to carry the bomb.

  • Phil Monahan, a cameraman for CNN affiliate KOCO who shot video of the bombing aftermath. The tape was subpoenaed by the government to be used as evidence.

  • Richard Williams, a federal employee who was inside the building when the bomb went off and helped others escape. He suffered a hand injury in the blast.

  • spectators

    Heavy spring snow fell Thursday morning as more than two dozen people stood in line outside the Denver courthouse waiting to get inside. About 10 were bombing victims or their relatives.

    Some of the victims and their family members are watching a closed-circuit telecast in Oklahoma City.

    Correspondents Tony Clark and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

    OKC Trial Special Section

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