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Fence draws crowd as jury deliberates verdict

May 31, 1997

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Max Pickle stared at the empty spot that was once the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and decided no verdict will quell the chill it gives him.

Still, the night guard at the federal courthouse near the bomb site waited anxiously Friday. What would the jury decide?

``You’ve got mothers and fathers who have lost sons and daughters. You’ve got mothers who have lost babies. Even a conviction ain’t going to take that hurt away,″ Pickle said. ``But it will give some peace of mind.″

A gentle morning rain gave way to afternoon sunshine Friday as a steady stream of visitors trekked to the site of the April 19, 1995, blast.

Many of them turned their thoughts toward Denver where a jury began deliberating the case against suspect Timothy McVeigh.

``I don’t know what will happen if it doesn’t come down guilty,″ said Karen Blake, an Oklahoma City resident who brought visitors to the chain-link barrier that has become a makeshift memorial to the bombing’s 168 victims.

Although she described herself as undecided on the death penalty, Ms. Blake felt it would be fitting punishment if McVeigh is found guilty.

``As far as anyone deserving it _ 168 innocent people is a lot,″ she said.

Wreaths, flowers, photos and crosses ranging from floral-bedecked styrofoam to simple twigs adorned the fence surrounding the site. Others left stuffed toys in remembrance of the 19 children killed in the blast.

Nearby, the steel skeletons of buildings ripped apart by the blast stood torn and rusting.

Richard Williams, the building manager for the General Services Administration, came to the fence near the place where the Ryder truck that carried the bomb exploded.

His office was on the first floor of the federal building. He had to be pulled from the rubble by a firefighter and received 150 stitches for numerous injuries.

Williams wanted to treat Friday like any other day and planned to attend his son’s baseball games later.

``We’ll be on pins and needles at the same time,″ he said. ``But we have to go on.″