When the judge asked if the sequestered jurors felt well enough to deliberate, the all nodded. One, a man, turned to the juror next to him and grinned sheepishly.

After the jury retired for deliberations, McVeigh was smiling as he stood and shook hands with lawyer Rob Nigh. Another lawyer, Jeralyn Merritt, patted him on the back.

Marshals then escorted him through the door to his cell. He walked out with his hands buried in the pockets of his khaki pants.

In closing arguments Thursday, McVeigh attorney Stephen Jones made a similar plea to jurors to rely on reason, not compassion. He urged them not to let sympathy rule this case like race ruled the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

``All of us understand the victims' plight. They are not the property of any side to this lawsuit. Their collective loss belongs to the country,'' Jones said.

Prosecutor Scott Mendeloff followed Jones' summation with the government's rebuttal, the final argument jurors heard.

``That fresh-faced young man over there is a mass murderer,'' Mendeloff said, pointing across the courtroom at McVeigh.

Earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Mackey described how McVeigh set the fuse on the truck bomb within sight of the federal building's day-care center, with only a ``wall of windows'' to protect the children from the blast.

Speaking just above a whisper, Mackey looked at the jury and said, ``It is now time to render justice. ... On behalf of the United States, I ask that you render a verdict of guilty.''

By the end of his statement, one juror and more than dozen bombing survivors and relatives were crying.

The defense's sharpest challenge was aimed at the FBI crime laboratory. FBI chemist Stephen Burmeister testified that he found ammonium nitrate crystals on a scrap of Ryder truck panel and traces of explosives on McVeigh's clothing.

``This is a lab without a rudder, without a sail and without a captain,'' defense attorney Christopher Tritico said. ``But this ship is making judgment calls that affect people's lives.''

Tritico asked how ammonium nitrate crystals could have remained on the truck panel after heavy rain fell on Oklahoma City that night.

``Magic, magic, more like smoke and mirrors,'' Tritico said.

During Tritico's attack, McVeigh appeared emotional, rubbing his eyes at one point. When Tritico finished, McVeigh patted him on the back and thanked him.

During his summation, Jones contended that the prosecution's star witnesses, Michael and Lori Fortier, implicated McVeigh to save themselves from prosecution and they hoped to get rich by selling their story.

``They're not believable,'' Jones said. ``Put everything they said aside. Forget them.''

He stressed that no witnesses saw McVeigh building a bomb or saw him in Oklahoma City the day of the bombing. He also attacked the testimony of the witness who identified McVeigh as the man who rented the truck.

Raising the issue of a severed left leg found in the rubble, Jones suggested the real bomber died in the blast. ``That's certainly the experience with other terrorists,'' he said.

But prosecutors said the defense failed to damage an interlocking case built out of evidence from diverse sources.

Mackey said McVeigh was either the bomber or ``the unluckiest man in the world,'' who happened to be arrested 75 miles from the bomb scene carrying literature announcing his intent, with explosives residue on his clothing.

McVeigh's own writings and anti-government literature showed he was motivated by rage over the deadly 1993 government siege near Waco, Texas, Mackey said. And he said McVeigh was fixated on ``The Turner Diaries,'' a racist novel that describes the terrorist bombing of a federal building.

Mackey used McVeigh's fondness for revolutionary rhetoric against the defendant, saying the victims were not ``tyrants whose blood had to be spilled to preserve liberty.''