The Verdict: Death

THE MOOD INSIDE THE JURY ROOM solemn and sometimes tearful: at one point or another, all of the seven men and five women deciding Tim McVeigh's fate were reduced to tears by the emotional burden of deciding such a historic case. But the tears, said juror Vera Chubb, "weren't for Mr. McVeigh. We were thinking about the families that were left in Oklahoma City... how their lives would never be the same and how mothersand fathers had to bury their loved ones."

Tough jury-- and tough luck for Timothy James McVeigh, the all-American boy gone bad. Found guilty on 11 counts of murder and conspiracy in the 1995 terror bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, McVeigh, 29, was sentenced to die by lethal injection if his conviction is upheld on appeal, a process that could take three years. Like the guilt phase of his trial, the eight-day penalty phase was a model of the way America's courts are supposed to function--but sometimes don't. The speedy, unequivocal result is a credit to the firm presence of Judge Richard P. Matsch as much as to the avalanche of circumstantial evidence the government presented against McVeigh. It is also a tribute to the underlying strength of the jury system-and once they were released from their oath of secrecy, a number of jurors told NEWSWEEK how the panel reached its trial verdict and its decision that McVeigh, despite his military record and his boy-next-door appearance, should die.

The inescapable conclusion, based on these interviews, is that McVeigh's guilt was never in question and that there was no division among the jurors on the death penalty. Both questions were decided with one vote. "It was unanimous from the get-go," jury foreman James Osgood told NEWSWEEK. It is equally clear that the defense strategy, largely aimed at making McVeigh's motive for the bombing seem reasonable, was a catastrophe. In a group interview after the trial, 11 of the 12 jurors said the one thing they still wanted to know was why, exactly, McVeigh had committed the bombing. "Throughout the trial I kept saying to myself, 'Defense, please show me Tim McVeigh's side'," juror David Gilger told NEWSWEEK." 'Give me something that shows there is innocence.' But unfortunately, it was never shown to me." Vera Chubb, grandmotherly and bespectacled, may have seemed one of the more empathetic members of the panel: she and Juror No. 2, Martha Hite, held hands during some of the victims' testimony. Though she acknowledged that."it isn't easy to sentence someone to death," Chubb said she thought "we brought justice back [to the system]--we feel we did the correct thing."

McVeigh, apparently unmoved by the death sentence, appeared to flash the V-sign toward the jury as the court recessed. He also mouthed something like "It's going to be OK" to his sister Jennifer and his parents, Bill McVeigh and Mildred (Mickey) Frazer. Mickey, who made an impassioned appeal for her son's life two days earlier, sobbed as the verdict was pronounced. Juror Dianne Faircloth felt bad for McVeigh's mother but had no doubts about the sentence. "Being a mother myself, I saw she was pleading for her son's life. Mr. McVeigh was to me the picture of a broken man. They have my sympathies; it's a very tragic situation." But, Faireloth said, Tim is "not the same boy who grew up in their home."

McVeigh's unyielding courtroom manner made an impression on the jury that could not have helped his case. Despite days of heart-rending testimony from victims and their families, he seemed to react emotionally only during a hard-bitten closing statement by Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Wilkinson. "Take a moment and look at Timothy McVeigh," Wilkinson said, glaring at the defendant. "Look into the eyes of a coward, and tell him you will have the courage. Tell him you will speak with one unified voice, as the moral conscience of the community, and tell him he is no patriot." McVeigh stared stonily back, then looked toward the jury: no refuge there. Then he looked at Wilkinson, who was still glaring at him. "He is a traitor, and he deserves to die," she said.

Defense co-counsel Robert Nigh said later that his client should not be criticized for trying to maintain his composure and dignity. But jurors noticed--and remembered--that McVeigh showed no remorse for the crime or sympathy for the victims. "We all said we didn't understand why," said Chubb. Faircloth was blunter. "What he represents to me is a terrorist--someone with no-regard for human life," she told NEWSWEEK. "He represents a twisted view of the intentions of the government and the principles that this country was founded upon."

Her icy contempt goes to the heart of the failed defense strategy-the attempt to show that McVeigh was so infuriated by the fiasco at Waco that the bombing was understandable, if not justified. This high-risk gambit was the brainchild of lead defense counsel Stephen Jones and death-penalty specialist Richard Burr, who hoped to persuade the jury that the Feds' mishandling of the Branch Davidian siege indicts all Americans -- a shaky proposition at best. "Somehow, somewhere, in the midst of Mr. McVeigh's misplaced... horrifyingly out-of-proportion beliefs" about Waco, Burr told the jury, "there is a reason for all of us to have concern. That we have not expressed that concern before this tragedy means that we all bear some responsibility for Oklahoma City."

This argument clearly backfired. The proof came when the jurors, in a ritual required by law, announced their votes on each of 14 "mitigating factors" offered by the defense. They agreed unanimously that McVeigh had no prior criminal record and had won the Bronze Star during the Persian Gulf War. Four thought he had sometimes "done good deeds," two agreed that he was a "reliable, dependable" person and one kindly soul thought he "deals honestly" with others. All 12 accepted Burr's depiction of McVeigh's deep hostility toward the federal government after Waco and the FBI shootout at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. They agreed that McVeigh believed the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were responsible for the deaths of the Branch Davidians, and they agreed that McVeigh thought the Feds had "failed to punish those responsible" for Waco and Ruby Ridge. They also agreed that McVeigh thought the Feds' ninja-warrior tactics in those incidents were "leading to a police state." But they unanimously rejected the most critical point of all: that McVeigh "believed deeply in the ideals upon which the United States was founded."

He was a terrorist, not a patriot, they concluded-and he deserved to die. Defense lawyers often say a jury's refusal to look at the defendant is a sure sign that it has found him guilty, but this time the omens were worse. As Matsch read the decision for death, foreman Osgood and jurors Jonathan Candelaria and Michael Leeper stared venomously at McVeigh. Like others, Candelaria said he thought McVeigh's behavior during the trial was "coldheartedness, not shedding a tear." He also thought McVeigh seemed more interested in the proceedings when Burr launched into his discussion of Waco, because Waco was "something [McVeigh] believed in." Candelaria said, "I don't hate this man"-but when the jury cast its votes for the death penalty, he added, "a chill went up my spine, and I was breathing heavy." Back in court, he said, he stared at McVeigh because "I couldn't be afraid. I was making a decision on this man's life, [and] I had to look him in the eye." McVeigh, he said, seemed to nod at him when the jury was polled.

Church bells rang in Oklahoma City as word of the death sentence spread; and at the vacant lot that was once the Murrah building, victims and their families gathered to bear witness to a turning point in their deal. Some, like Dwayne Miller, whose legs were injured in the blast, said, "This is what [McVeigh] deserves to get." Others, like Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was killed that day, said they still opposed the death penalty in principle-- though Welch said the jury did what the law required. The more common reaction was a sense of relief. "It is a decision I am glad I didn't have to make," said Priscilla Salyers, a federal employee who survived four and a half terrifying hours beneath the rubble of the shattered building. "It did not matter to me personally whether or not he got death. I said [all along] that no matter what happens, it is not going to bring back my friends."

All sides know the legal drama is not over. McVeigh's lawyers say they will appeal, and his alleged accomplice, Terry Nichols, must still stand trial on the same list of charges. The district attorney in Oklahoma City, Bob Macey, says he will put McVeigh on trial for murder in state court in case the federal conviction is overturned on appeal. No one can say where all this will lead-except that McVeigh, a confused young zealot in a hateful cause, will someday realize he, too, can hear the executioner's song.

PHOTOS (COLOR): The Aftershocks: Church bells rang in Oklahoma City and survivors wept in Denver as the sentence came down, McVeigh's parents pleaded with the jury to spare their son but failed, Stephen Jones promised to appeal.

PHOTO (COLOR): Timothy McVeigh

After weeks of testimony, the seven men and five women on the Oklahoma City bombing jury sentenced defendant Tim McVeigh to death. A look at who made the decision:

65, a grandmother from Loveland, Colo., was asked early on if she could send McVeigh to death. Her reply: "I think so."

a special-education teacher in her 50s, was often one of the first jurors to cry during emotional testimony.

25, a Hispanic landscaper, was the main jury's only minority. He glared at McVeigh as the sentence was read.

a retiree in her mid-70s, was the jury's oldest member. She said the death penalty is required in some cases.

49, is a Vietnam vet with two kids. He cried during day-care-center testimony and scowled at McVeigh during sentencing.

a 33-year-old computer technician, gave aid to victims through his company's relief effort. He has served in the air force.

is a 42-year-old registered nurse with three daughters. Her two youngest joined a penny-collection effort for the victims.

a maintenance man for a grocery store, is 41 years old. He reads the Bible often and appeared unshaken by testimony. Roger Brown, a property manager in his 30s, is the father of three. He called the death penalty "warranted" if there is "intent to kill."

is a 24-year-old college grad who is working as a waitress. She said she subscribes to an "eye for an eye" philosophy.

an engineer in his SOs, cried during victim testimony. The foreman stared at McVeigh as he pronounced him guilty.

a 50-something computer programmer and father of two, said the death penalty should not be "rendered lightly."

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