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McVeigh letter bitterly blames FBI for Waco deaths


2nd potential juror dismissed

April 8, 1997
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EST

DENVER (CNN) -- As jury selection advanced Tuesday in the trial of Timothy McVeigh, a letter written by the defendant was released in which he lambastes the FBI for the 1993 fire at the Branch Davidian compound.

"The public never saw the Davidians' home video of their cute babies, adorable children, loving mothers or protective fathers," McVeigh wrote in a letter excerpted for the weekly Oklahoma Gazette.

"Nor did they see pictures of the charred remains of children's bodies. Therefore, they didn't care when these families died a slow, tortuous death as they were gassed and burned alive at the hands of the FBI."

McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones, said the letter was authentic. "I don't think there's anything in the letter that hasn't been said before," Jones said.

Cult leader David Koresh and 80 of his followers died April 19, 1993, by fire or gunshots several hours after the FBI started filling the compound with tear gas during a raid that ended a 51-day standoff.

Davidians and their attorneys blame the government for starting the fire. FBI officials said the blaze was started by sect members.

McVeigh's anger at the federal government over the standoff near Waco, Texas, is well-documented, and prosecutors have suggested that rage as a possible motive for the bombing at Oklahoma City, which occurred on the second anniversary of the siege.

McVeigh, 28, is charged with murder and conspiracy in the bombing that killed 168 people. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The letter was written to the Gazette's Phil Bacharach in November 1996, several months after the reporter interviewed McVeigh in prison. The Gazette didn't say why it waited until now to publish the letter.

Woman dismissed over venue issue


On the seventh day of McVeigh's trial in Denver, a potential juror was dismissed because she disagreed with the decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch to move McVeigh's trial from Oklahoma City to Denver.

After Matsch explained his decision to the woman, he asked her if she understood.

"Yes, but it does cost the federal government a lot of money, doesn't it?," she asked. Shortly thereafter, Matsch excused her, saying it was apparent that she could not be an impartial juror.

The woman, a native of Germany who came to the United States after marrying a U.S. soldier 40 years ago, also told Matsch the American justice system was too soft on defendants.

She is the second of 43 people questioned so far to be excused from potentially serving on the jury.

Sources close to the case told CNN before questioning began Tuesday that 24 prospective jurors have cleared the first review process and will become part of the final pool that will be considered for peremptory challenges.

The judge and attorneys are trying to find 64 jurors for the next stage of jury selection who have said they can fairly and impartially consider the death penalty for McVeigh, if he's convicted.

OKC Trial Special Section

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