Defense Opening Statement

From defense lawyer Stephen Jones' opening statement:

I have waited two years for this moment to outline the evidence to you that the government will produce, that I will produce, both by direct and cross-examination, by exhibits, photographs, transcripts of telephone conversations, transcripts of conversations inside houses, videotapes, that will establish not a reasonable doubt but that my client is innocent of the crime that Mr. Hartzler has outlined to you.

It was a spring day in Oklahoma City. And inside the office of the Social Security Administration located in the Alfred P. Murrah Building, named after a distinguished chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, a young black woman named Dana Bradley was feeling the atmosphere a little stuffy and warm; so she left her mother, her two children, and her sister in line and she wandered out into the lobby of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. And as she was looking out the plate glass window, a Ryder truck slowly pulled into a parking place and stopped. She didn't give it any particular attention until the door opened on the passenger side, and she saw a man get out.

Approximately three weeks later, she described the man to the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, as indeed she did to us and to others, as short, stocky, olive-complected, wearing a puffy jacket, with black hair, a description that does not match my client. She did not see anyone else.

She saw this individual pause briefly, walk to what she thought might be the back of the truck, and walk away.

She turned around and went back in the Social Security office; and then in just a matter of moments, the explosion occurred. It took the life of her mother and her two children and horribly burned her sister. She is not a witness for the defense.

And that night, approximately 12 hours later, almost to the minute, somewhere between 50 and 100 million people throughout the world, courtesy of CNN, watched physicians crawl through the rubble of the Murrah Building and amputate this woman's life, this woman's leg, in order that her life might be saved and she could be extricated from the rubble.

Mr. McVeigh's motives as described by the government in Mr. Hartzler's opening address are that he is anti-government; that he has a hatred for the United States, and that he conspired with others to build a terrible explosive device which he initiated because he was angry at the government of the United States.

Mr. Hartzler has told you that the government's evidence will consist of, among other things, a shirt that Mr. McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested and that in his car he had all this patriot literature — it was, after all, incidentally, Patriots' Day, as Mr. Hartzler said — quotations from John Locke, Patrick Henry; but on this shirt, he had sic semper tyrannis, the words spoken by John Wilkes Booth when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln in Ford's theater. And the government suggests to you that as an expression of his motive.

Well, sic semper tyrannis is also the official slogan of the state of Virginia and had been for almost 100 years before John Wilkes Booth appropriated it. And it was chosen by three men: George Mason, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, a member of the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia. He authored several amendments to the Constitution which were later adopted.

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