Seven men and five women were selected Tuesday to hear the Oklahoma City bombing trial, with the judge using a bingo-style system of numbers to shield the identities of the anonymous jurors.
“I now address you as members of the jury,” U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch told them as they took their assigned seats in the jury box. “You’ve been selected as the jury to try this case.”
Although their names, backgrounds, attitudes and races were not disclosed, sources close to the case said the jury consisted of seven men and five women, with an alternate panel of three men and three women.
A sloping wall keeps most reporters from seeing into the jury box, but members of the public have a better view.
Jurors return Thursday to take their oath and hear opening statements as Timothy McVeigh stands trial in the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.
The 28-year-old Gulf War veteran is charged in the the April 19, 1995, truck bombing of the downtown Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.
Intent on preserving jurors’ privacy, Matsch concocted an unusual system of exercising peremptory challenges, in which jurors were identified by a letter and a number.
Lawyers called out the codes - D-2, A-4, E-6 and the like - of the jurors to be dismissed.
Prosecutor Joseph Hartzler tried to make light of the system.
“Like bingo, your honor,” Hartzler quipped.
Matsch glared at the prosecutor and said, “It’s a lot more serious than a bingo game.”