The sister of Oklahoma City bombing defendant Timothy J. McVeigh appeared before the federal grand jury here Wednesday under an agreement that, at the least, bars her testimony from being used against her.
Jennifer McVeigh, 21, spent about 2 1/2 hours before the grand jury panel at Tinker Air Force Base as the government nears indictments in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
But she did so only after obtaining assurances that her testimony about her brother’s activities in the months before the bombing--including letters he sent her--would not be used to make her a co-defendant when the grand jury finishes its work on Aug. 11. The Pendleton, N.Y., college student is said to share her brother’s deep distrust of the U.S. government.
Joel Daniels, her attorney, said when they arrived in Oklahoma City on Tuesday that the government does not now view her as a possible defendant in the April 19 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which left 168 people dead and hundreds injured.
“She is not a target,” Daniels said.
As soon as they arrived, Jennifer McVeigh and her attorney met for about five hours at the U.S. attorney’s office to iron out the parameters under which she would testify.
Sources said Daniels insisted that his client be given a blanket “no target letter” from the government, promising in writing that prosecutors would never charge her in the case as long as she cooperates and testifies before the grand jury.
However, the sources said, prosecutors were only willing to grant her immunity from evidence obtained in her grand jury testimony. The prosecutors wanted to leave open the possibility of using any evidence against her that the government may have obtained outside her grand jury testimony.
It remained unclear Wednesday night exactly what agreement was reached. Joseph Hartzler, an assistant U.S. attorney who is the lead prosecutor in the case, declined to discuss the grand jury proceedings.
And Daniels would say only that she was in the grand jury room for about 2 1/2 hours. “It went well,” he added.
Afterward, he and his client were driven by government officials to the Oklahoma City airport, where they were escorted onto the Tarmac and into an airplane returning home. The escort kept them away from reporters at the airport.
Her appearance before the grand jury comes as the panel is nearing the end of its investigation. The proceedings have been conducted under extremely high security at Tinker and away from the federal courthouse in downtown Oklahoma City, where the panel normally meets.
Also called this week to testify was James Rosencrans, a former neighbor of Timothy McVeigh and Michael Fortier in Kingman, Ariz. Fortier, who also holds anti-government views, has been questioned about the bombing and his friendship with McVeigh.
It was the second time that Rosencrans had been called before the grand jury. Earlier he testified about a stolen gun that he received from Fortier, who also is considered a leading suspect in the case.
Rosencrans’ stepfather, Charles Rosencrans, also is here to testify.
Tom Manning, manager of the Firestone tire dealership in Junction City, Kan., who reportedly sold McVeigh a yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis five days before the bombing, also is expected to testify. As part of the car sale, McVeigh gave Manning his Pontiac Sunbird station wagon.
Manning has yet to testify because he was on his honeymoon. Asked for comment on Wednesday, he refused. “I’ve got nothing more to say, except to the people who need to know.”
James Fulgium, who also works at the Firestone dealership, acknowledged Wednesday that he had testified on July 25 about seeing McVeigh switch his Arizona license plates from the Sunbird to the Mercury.
McVeigh was arrested in the Mercury just 90 minutes after the bombing, when he was stopped for a traffic infraction in Perry, Okla.
Other witnesses have included Joe Vinduska of Pilsen, Kan., who reportedly told the grand jury that he saw McVeigh driving the rented Ryder truck used in the bombing to Oklahoma City on the morning of the blast.
And sources said that another witness was Sharri Furman of Council Grove, Kan. She manages a storage bin company. Terry L. Nichols, another bombing defendant, reportedly rented a locker from her last fall. Government officials have charged that Nichols rented various storage bins to hide bomb ingredients in the months before the blast.
Neither Vinduska nor Furman could be reached for comment.
It also was learned that federal agents have ended a search for a duffel bag believed buried in the Arizona desert by the bombing suspects. What might be in the duffel bag, if anything, is unclear, but one government source said Wednesday that the search ended in “negative results.”
Times staff writer Ronald J. Ostrow in Washington contributed to this story.