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Reactions mixed to McVeigh death sentence

Denny June 13, 1997
Web posted at: 8:18 p.m. EDT (0018 GMT)

In this story:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Hartzler

"This is not a day of great joy for the prosecution team.

"We're pleased that the system worked and that justice prevailed. But the verdict doesn't diminish the great sadness that occurred in Oklahoma City two years ago.

"Our only hope is that the verdict will go some way to preventing such a terrible drastic crime from ever occurring again."

Lead defense attorney Stephen Jones

"The jury has spoken, and their verdict is entitled to respect and all Americans should accord it that respect until such time if ever it is overturned by a court of competent jurisdiction.

movie icon (1.6MB/45 sec. QuickTime movie - McVeigh's attorney Stephen Jones makes a statement after the sentence is read.)
movie icon (832K/110 sec. QuickTime movie slide show - The world reacts to the sentencing of Timothy McVeigh.)

"We ask that the barriers and intolerance which have divided us may crumble, that suspicions disappear, and that hatreds cease, and that our divisions and intolerance being healed, we may live together in justice and peace.

"God save the United States of America, God save this honorable court."

Sells quote

President Clinton's statement

"Since there is another trial pending, I cannot comment on the jury's decision.

"But on behalf of all Americans, I thank the jurors for their deliberations and their thoroughness as they made these grave decisions. This investigation and trial have confirmed our country's faith in its justice system.


"To the victims and their families, I know that your healing can be measured only one day at a time. The prayers and support of your fellow Americans will be with you every one of those days."

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating

"What they did was absolutely right. This crime was horrific -- 168 deaths, premeditated killing, deserves the death penalty, and I'm very pleased. ...

"I'm just very, very grateful to the jury for doing an extremely morally challenging thing. It was a very courageous thing for them to do, and I think I speak for most of the family members when I say that."

Survivors and victims' relatives

Victims' relatives and survivors, who gathered at the Oklahoma City bombing site, shouted and shuddered with relief as the sentence was announced.


Jim Denny, two children injured

"These 12 very unbiased jurors looked long and hard and decided on death, and we are willing to go along with whatever they feel they can live with for the rest of their lives. ...

"The sense of relief for me personally came after the guilty verdict came in. ...

"There will always be this very, very deep hurt, especially for those who lost children and people in the bombing. ... But I think maybe it might ease a little bit of the anger and the hatred, and I really hope so."

Lyle Cousins, wife killed

"As a nation, if we're not going to execute somebody for doing something like this, what are we telling people -- that the worst possible punishment you can have is a life of room and board. ...


"I think Timothy McVeigh needs to prepare himself to meet God. I think that's the final judge, and that's where he needs to get his life right now. ...

"I'm not vindictive, I mean I wasn't out for blood. I just want people to be accountable for what they do."

Bud Welch, daughter killed

"I think it's a sad day when we have to sentence one of our citizens to death. The crime that he did was out of hatred, hatred for the government, and we as a government react, and react with hatred also."

A crowd also gathered outside the courthouse in Denver, where victims' loved ones watched the proceedings.

Jannie Coverdale, two grandsons killed; watched trial in Denver


"I was happy that he got the death penalty, but then I was sad that had to take another life. And I felt so sorry for his parents. ...

"I think Timothy McVeigh had a problem. I don't think the federal government had anything to do with his problem. ... I think he was upset about not making Special Forces [in the Army], so then he had to blame somebody, so he blamed the federal government."

Roy Sells, wife killed; he watched the trial in Denver

on the verdict:

"I'm glad it's over. I got what I wanted to out of it anyway -- I thought he should have death, and that's what we got. It's not a lot of fun to put a guy to death, but it wasn't a lot of fun when he put our loved ones to death, either."

on McVeigh's family:

"I feel sorry for them -- they're victims, too. I'm sure it hurt like crazy to hear that verdict, the death sentence pronounced, I'm sure it did, so I have compassion for them -- they've lost a son."

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OKC Trial

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