Bombing trial moved because media “demonized” defendants
OKLAHOMA–A federal District Court judge in Oklahoma City ruled in late February that Oklahoma City bombing suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols will not stand trial in that state. The trial court found that the task of empaneling an impartial jury in Oklahoma would be too difficult, due in large part to the publicity surrounding the trial.
The defendants, charged with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in April 1995 which resulted in the deaths of 169 people, will stand trial in Denver.
The court held that “the interests of the victims in being able to attend this trial in Oklahoma are outweighed by the court’s obligation to assure that the trial be conducted with fundamental fairness and with due regard for all constitutional requirements.” Under federal law, the court must aid victims of crime to attend the proceedings against those accused of the act. In this case, “victims” include the families of all those killed in the blast.
Richard P. Matsch, the presiding judge, said that the defendants had been “demonized” by the media in Oklahoma, and therefore rejected the prosecution’s suggestion of Tulsa as an alternate venue for the proceeding. The judge stated that he preferred an out-of-state site due to “both the volume and focus of the media coverage in Oklahoma.” (U.S. v. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols)