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McVeigh guilty

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DENVER (CNN) -- Timothy McVeigh, an extremist who wrote of making blood flow in the streets of America, was found guilty June 2 in the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated four days before convicting McVeigh in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The attack killed 168 people and injured hundreds.

VXtreme logo Streaming video of victims' reactions to the verdict

McVeigh, 29, was found guilty of eight counts of capital murder relating to the deaths of federal law enforcement agents who were on duty at the time of the explosion at 9:02 a.m.

McVeigh

He also was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of actually using that weapon and one count of destruction by explosive.

His alleged co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, will be tried later.

With the guilty verdict, the trial moves into the penalty phase, when the jury hears arguments for and against his execution.

Prosecution lined up friends, family, evidence

In the well-disciplined court of U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, the prosecution presented a streamlined case, calling 137 witnesses over 18 days.

The government argued that McVeigh spent months planning the bombing to avenge the government's deadly 1993 raid near Waco, Texas.

Lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler and his team interspersed technical testimony with the emotional recollections of rescue workers and survivors. On several occasions, some jurors cried after hearing the harrowing tales of survivors.

Fortier

Friends and family members took the stand against McVeigh. His sister Jennifer and old friends Michael and Lori Fortier testified of McVeigh's transformation from a decorated Gulf War veteran into an extremist with a deep hatred for the government.

The Fortiers, under a plea bargain, testified McVeigh told them of his plans to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City about six months before the Murrah building blast.

Michael Fortier said he and McVeigh cased the federal building together, and that McVeigh showed him an alley where he planned to stash a getaway car. Lori Fortier described how McVeigh made a model of the bomb's construction with soup cans in her kitchen.

Jennifer McVeigh, 23, identified her brother's handwriting on key evidence, and described the increasingly fatalistic letters she received from him, including one saying, "Something big is going to happen," shortly before the bombing.

The prosecution also introduced a letter purportedly written by McVeigh in which he wrote that his mindset had shifted from the "intellectual ... to the animal."

Charred pieces of the Ryder truck that prosecutors said was used to carry the explosives -- including a 250-pound mangled axle -- were hauled before the jury. FBI witnesses said explosives residue was found on a truck fragment and even on the clothes McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested, shortly after the bombing, near Oklahoma City.

Defense kept its case short, focused

Jones

The defense took just four days to call 25 witnesses. The scaled-down approach came after Matsch refused to allow theories of a larger conspiracy.

McVeigh did not take the stand in his own defense. Lead defense attorney Stephen Jones suggested the real bomber was killed in the blast, and suggested the evidence was contaminated in the much-maligned FBI crime lab.

As a defense witness, FBI whistleblower Frederic Whitehurst testified about potentially suspect evidence handling, but admitted under cross-examination that he had "no knowledge of any actual contamination of any evidence in this case."

Jones was restrained by Matsch's stipulation that all testimony about the lab be directly related to the bombing case. Matsch refused to allow into the record most of a Justice Department report critical of the FBI crime lab.

The defense attacked the Fortiers' credibility, forcing Michael Fortier to admit to drug use and to lying to the FBI. The jury heard FBI wiretap recordings of him telling friends he could make money selling his story. It also heard a CNN interview a week after the bombing in which Fortier said he did not believe McVeigh "blew up any building in Oklahoma."

But Daina Bradley, a key defense witness whom Jones had promised would place someone besides McVeigh at the bomb scene, changed her testimony, saying she also saw a light-skinned man get out of a Ryder truck. The prosecution, noting she admitted to a clouded memory and a history of mental problems, suggested her testimony was unreliable.

The defense spent about $10 million trying to clear McVeigh. Jones has estimated the cost of investigating the bombing and prosecuting McVeigh at $50 million.

 
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