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Highlights of the prosecution’s case against Timothy McVeigh

May 28, 1997

MOTIVE: Prosecutors contend Timothy McVeigh spent months planning the bombing to avenge the government’s deadly 1993 raid at Waco, Texas. They introduced letters purportedly written by McVeigh saying his mindset had shifted from the ``intellectual ... to the animal,″ and that ``something big is about to happen in the month of the bull,″ an astrological reference to April or May.

`THE TURNER DIARIES’: Prosecutors say the blueprint for McVeigh’s plan was ``The Turner Diaries,″ a racist novel about a militia plot to bomb a federal building in Washington. They called former friends and relatives, including his sister Jennifer, who told of McVeigh’s transformation from a decorated Gulf War veteran into a survivalist with a deep hatred for the government.

BOMB PREPARATIONS: Witnesses told jurors McVeigh purchased books on how to make bombs and went on a nationwide search for components. They allege he and co-defendant Terry Nichols used aliases to purchase ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the main bomb ingredient. Prosecutors also introduced records from a telephone calling card which they said traced McVeigh’s and Nichols’ steps.

KEY WITNESSES: Key witnesses Michael and Lori Fortier said McVeigh told him of his plans to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City about six months before it occurred and how he diagramed its construction with soup cans on their kitchen floor. Fortier said he and McVeigh cased the building in Oklahoma City and that McVeigh showed him an alley where he planned to stash a getaway car.

TRUCK PARTS: Prosecutors introduced charred truck pieces, including a 250-pound mangled truck axle with a vehicle identification number that was traced to a Ryder truck rented at Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kan. Body shop owner Eldon Elliott identified McVeigh as the man who rented the truck using an alias two days before the blast.

FINGERPRINTS: FBI fingerprint expert Louis Hupp testified McVeigh’s fingerprints were on a receipt for 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that was found in co-defendant Terry Nichols’ home. But he acknowledged McVeigh’s prints couldn’t be found on the truck key, the rental agreement or at the rental agency.

FORENSIC EVIDENCE: An FBI chemist said traces of high explosives were found on the clothing McVeigh was wearing and on a set of earplugs he was carrying when he was pulled over on a traffic violation 75 minutes after the bombing.

BOMBING VICTIMS: Prosecutors have used an unusual strategy to present their case, ignoring chronological order to intermingle physical evidence with compelling images from bombing survivors and relatives.

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