Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bomb Trial Presents Variety of Odd Images

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bomb Trial Presents Variety of Odd Images

Article excerpt

At exactly 8:55 a.m. every day, marshals escort Timothy McVeigh into court. His smiling, boyish, red-cheeked face reflects no sign of the deadly serious charges hanging over him.

McVeigh usually wears khakis and dress shirts. The sleeves are rolled u p, the collars open. His skin is prison pale, his hair in a prickly buzz cut. He is very skinny.

McVeigh sits at the defense table and watches closely and intently. Sometimes he leans forward, hands folded and eyes glued to the jury box, watching a parade of people who may stand in judgment of him. Jury selection in the trial of the man accused in the Oklahoma City bombing has consumed 13 days, with at least a week to go. Much of the time, the scene in U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch's courtroom co nflicts with the gravity of the charges. For one, there's the innocent-looking defendant. The man accused of killing 168 people follows the proceedings with eyes of wonderment, like a boy who got to visit his first real-life courtroom. He busily reads court papers and scribbles notes on a legal pad. When introduced to prospective jurors, McVeigh stands awkwardly, as if he were about to be kissed by an old aunt, and mumbles good morning. Then he sits down, and the judge and attorneys take over. Here, the proceedings are a mixture of tedium, intensity, poignancy and low humor as the attorneys probe the prospective jurors' psyches while also shamelessly seeking to ingratiate themselves with the panel. The attorneys laugh at the jurors' jokes, lavish compliments on their accomplishments and act keenly interested in every aspect of their lives, from jobs to pets. "You're a very interesting person because I have six different notes from my colleagues of things they want to talk to you about," prosecutor Patrick Ryan told a music teacher who is blind in one eye. Another prosecutor, Larry Mackey, once told a juror how fascinating it was that each candidate was unique. It was a comment of great understatement. …

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