Timothy McVeigh’s jurors said Saturday they needed to take only one vote to convict him and one vote to condemn him for the Oklahoma City bombing, saying the prosecution’s circumstantial case was powerful.
“Each day, progressively, he became more guilty,” said jury foreman James Osgood, among the 11 jurors who spoke with reporters one day after they sentenced McVeigh to death for the blast that killed 168 people on April 19, 1995.
“I felt confident with my decision the whole time, never had any doubt, but I needed to look him in the eye,” said John Candelaria.
The defense, on the other hand, had little evidence in the guilt phase and had little choice but to essentially admit during the penalty phase that McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, they said.
“What else did they have to work with?” said Tonya Stedman. “I think they did as good a job as they possibly could … to explain away this action. But there is no justification for that kind of action.”
Even though they sentenced him to death, it was the vote on guilt that was the most difficult, they said.
“It took us a good hour, hour and a half for us to calm down so we could go into the courtroom,” Ruth Meier said.
Added Roger Brown: “You go into this assuming McVeigh is innocent. The most shocking blow to all of us, I know to me personally, was that, yeah, he’s guilty. And it just hit home right there.”
The penalty phase, they said, was easier.
“I can sleep at night,” Doug Carr said.
Asked as a group what single question they would have of McVeigh, the 11 jurors answered in unison, “Why?”
They said they even had little concern for the holes in the prosecution’s case, including lack of evidence that McVeigh built the bomb.
“The information is out there,” said Brown.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to put the bomb together.”
Jurors also said they were not impressed with the defense suggestion in the penalty phase that more violence could follow if McVeigh were executed.
“We were judging Tim McVeigh, ” said Mike Leeper. “We weren’t judging the future.”
They all praised the stern manner of U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch and his control of the courtroom. “He was the man,” said Stedman.
The experience, they said, left them drained. It also will never be forgotten.
“I didn’t know anyone’s last name until the day before yesterday,” said Meier. “I love all 18 of them, and we will stay an extended family forever.”