Survivors tell of Oklahoma bomb horror

From the moment Cynthia Klaver got up on 19 April 1995, it was "just a regular day", the Oklahoma lawyer said yesterday. At a water board hearing that opened at 9am where a farmer was seeking rights to sell bottled water from his land, her secretary had just turned on the tape, as usual. "In regard to these proceedings," Ms Klaver, presiding, was heard saying, "there are four elements for which I have to receive information..."

Then there is a boom of noise and static. In the third-floor office across the street from the Alfred Murrah building, shouts and screams and then distant sirens are heard.

"Everybody, let's get out of here," Ms Klaver calls out. "Watch the lights!"

The ceiling had fallen in, she told jurors yesterday. Cables and wires were everywhere and the electricity was still on.

The tape was played to jurors in the trial of Timothy McVeigh, accused of the Oklahoma bombing. "I thought the whole building was coming down on us," she said. "I didn't see there was any way we were going to get out."

Prosecutors used the tape to set the stage for their case, after the defence concluded its own opening statement on Thursday afternoon.

For months, Mr McVeigh's legal team has said suggestions that a wider conspiracy was involved in the bombing, from the American far-right fringe to a German neo-Nazi, with hints of bomb parts supplied by the IRA. But there was no mention of that when defence lawyer Stephen Jones stepped to the podium.

Instead, he spoke of mistaken identity and flimsy forensic evidence. He returned repeatedly to eye witnesses describing a second man, olive skinned and shorter than Mr McVeigh. It was the elusive "John Doe number two", declared non-existent by federal agents after one of the biggest manhunts in history.

It was not Timothy McVeigh, he insisted, who matched the figure who rented the Ryder truck. His fingerprints were not on the rental lease. Nor was it he who took a delivery of Chinese food at the local Dreamland motel.

The nitrates on him detected in forensic tests were found in guns and ammunition, Mr Jones said. "If Tim McVeigh built the bomb and put it in the truck, our proof would be that his fingernails, his nostrils, his hair, his clothing, his car, his shoes, his socks would have it all over them. They don't."

After prosecutors cited letters to show Mr McVeigh believed blood should be spilt in the name of "liberty", Mr Jones described his client as a "political animal". "His politics were open and known to anyone that spent any time with him," he said. His case, he said, would establish "not a reasonable doubt, but that my client is innocent."

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
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
music
News
Frankie Boyle
people
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: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

£31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food