Trip to Bombing Site Brings Closure for McVeigh Jurors
As an alternate juror in the trial of Timothy J. McVeigh, Marlene Wichael was subjected to weeks of grisly testimony and horrifying photographs about the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building here.
But seeing the actual site drove her weeping to her knees.
“I need to finally see and be in the site, actually standing on the grounds where it happened,” Wichael, an elementary school teaching assistant from Thornton, Colo., said Saturday. “To know people lost their lives in that exact same spot.”
Wichael was one of 16 jurors and alternates who traveled to Oklahoma City to visit the site of the April 19, 1995, bombing and to meet survivors, relatives of victims and rescue workers. The trip was paid for by a group made up of survivors and family members of victims.
The weekend was filled with emotion as jurors who had studied every detail of the blast finally met the people behind the stories.
At a ceremony near the elm tree that weathered the bombing, Gov. Frank A. Keating and state Atty. Gen. Drew Edmondson lauded the jurors for professionalism and said they soothed Americans’ cynicism about judges and juries.
“And you, ladies and gentlemen, as a result of your willingness to listen to the facts and apply the law to those facts with an open mind and a candid appraisal of those facts, restored our faith and America’s faith in the criminal justice system,” Keating said as an American flag waved in the wind on the plaza of the former federal building.
Before going into the still-standing garage at the site, they were given long-stemmed red roses and pins in the shape of angels. On the bottom was the bombing date.
When they emerged onto the field where the nine-story building once stood, several shielded themselves from the 90-degree heat. Some bent and placed the roses in a line. Others lingered, wiping tears and hugging whoever was nearby.
Then they looked at mementos and notes on the chain-link fence that surrounds the site.