McVeigh guilty of Oklahoma bombing

The final chapter in a horrific story of death and destruction that shocked America unfolded yesterday as Timothy McVeigh, a former soldier, was found guilty of murder and conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people.

McVeigh was convicted of all 11 counts of murder and conspiracy, including the killings of eight US government employees, in the worst act of terrorism on American soil.

The verdict was followed by emotional scenes outside the court building in Denver, Colorado, and at the site of the bombing in Oklahoma City where survivors and relatives of McVeigh's victims, who included 19 children, had gathered.

His fate lies with the jury which must weigh whether to sentence him to death. Jurors could reconvene as early as tomorrow. Some survivors and relatives will present "victim impact statements" to the court, in a last outpouring of personal grief, as McVeigh's lawyers plead for his life. If the jury chooses the death penalty - in a state that has not used it for 30 years - three-quarters of Americans would agree, according to a Newsweek magazine poll.

However, Buddy Welch, whose sister Julie died, took a rare stand against execution. It would have "no redeeming value", he said. "If he's executed, he can never talk."

Prosecutors had described McVeigh, 29, as a "domestic terrorist", who blew up the federal government Alfred P Murrah building in an attempt to start the "second American revolution" and to see "blood flow in the streets of America". Within two days of the bombing the Gulf war veteran was identified as the man who rented a truck whose severed axle was discovered near the building after the bombing. The FBI found its chief suspect was already in jail - he had been arrested for a traffic offence in his getaway car.

The verdict promised to be an immense relief both to prosecutors and the FBI, as well as the bomb victims. Though McVeigh's alleged co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, must still face trial, it was McVeigh who was said to have picked the target and driven the truck containing the bomb to the spot. The jury yesterday found him guilty of plotting and carrying out the use of a weapon of mass destruction. As the jury was deliberating, Oklahoma authorities announced they were setting aside $650,000 (pounds 400,000) to prosecute McVeigh, whatever the result, on state charges of murdering 168 people.

The bombing in Oklahoma City marked the rise in the United States in 1994 of the so-called militias, far-right groups who believed the Government so overstepped its authority that they must arm against it. McVeigh was not an active member but was inspired by their beliefs. After the bombing, mainstream support for these groups rapidly fell away.

McVeigh was also obsessed with the government showdown with the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, in which 80 people died. He blamed the government and during the trial the star prosecution witness, Michael Fortier, testified that McVeigh thought its assault on Waco was planned in the Murrah building. It was bombed two years to the day after Waco.

The US President, Bill Clinton, said yesterday's verdict brought a "very important and long overdue day" for the victims' families.

"No single verdict can bring an end to your anguish," he told them, "but your courage has been an inspiration to all Americans."

American terror, page 13

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement