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Somber crowd gathers to remember Oklahoma City victims

People gather at the dedication ceremony today for the Oklahoma City National Memorial  

Legal issues still loom for McVeigh, Nichols

April 19, 2000
Web posted at: 10:07 a.m. EDT (1407 GMT)

In this story:

McVeigh sits on death row

Nichols faces state court hearing

Federal appeal filed


OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) -- Friends, families and survivors quietly gathered Wednesday at the dedication of the elegant and powerful Oklahoma City National Memorial, honoring the 168 people who died in the truck bombing that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building five years ago.

The national memorial is located on the grounds where the Murrah building stood. Its 168 empty chairs recall those who died, with small chairs commemorating the 19 children killed, 15 in the same day-care center. The chairs are lined in nine rows, one for each floor of the building.


Watch an early report from the bombing scene on April 19, 1995:
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VideoCNN's Charles Zewe visits a family with two children who survived the Oklahoma City bombing.
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Oklahoma City memorial


A reflecting pool graces Fifth Street, where the building stood.

As piano music played, members of the somber, standing-room-only crowd bowed their heads in prayer at the private morning service. President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno will attend a public ceremony in the afternoon.

McVeigh sits on death row

Meanwhile, only a mile away, Terry Nichols, one of two men convicted in the bombing, sits in a jail cell awaiting a second trial.

Nichols, 45, already is serving a life prison term on a federal conviction for his role in helping to plan and build the bomb used in the attack. But he now faces a possible state trial on murder charges that could result in a death penalty.

His ex-Army mate, Timothy McVeigh, 32, the man who detonated the truck bomb that blew apart the nine-story structure at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, was sentenced to death in a separate federal trial, convicted of eight counts of capital murder, conspiracy and using a weapon of mass destruction to destroy federal property. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch presided over both trials in Denver.

McVeigh is on death row in the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, his last appeal pending in the case.

Nichols, who was not at the scene of the bombing, was convicted of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The federal trials both focused only on the eight federal law enforcement officers killed in the attack.

Nichols faces state court hearing

Nichols, moved from the supermax federal prison at Florence, Colorado, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing August 7 in state court on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of the other 160 people, including 19 children.

The district attorney did not bring state charges against McVeigh because he already faces a death sentence.

It has been five years since the Oklahoma City bombing  

Nichols has filed a motion to dismiss the state charges on grounds it will be impossible for him to get a fair trial after already being convicted in federal court in the other eight deaths. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for June 15.

Federal appeal filed

Nichols also is appealing his conviction on the federal charges, contending prosecutors deliberately withheld evidence from his attorney.

McVeigh is awaiting action by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on his second and last appeal, on grounds his attorney Stephen Jones did not adequately represent him.

No date has been set for his execution, but it could be as early as next year.

McVeigh: Gulf War killings led him on path to disillusionment
March 13, 2000
Agent who led arrest of McVeigh tries to put human face on FBI
April 16, 1999
Grand jury finds McVeigh, Nichols acted alone in Oklahoma bombing
December 30, 1998
Oklahoma City bombing trial
March 1997
Timothy McVeigh and the death penalty
December 1996
McVeigh, Nichols plead not guilty in bombing
August 13, 1996

Oklahoma City National Memorial
We Remember - FHWA Oklahoma City Memorial Page
OKC National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
Oklahoma State Government

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