Quietly Picking A Jury In Denver

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DENVER: Nearly two years after a massive bomb shattered a peaceful spring morning in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, jury selection began quietly Monday some 600 miles north in Denver in the criminal trial of suspect Timothy McVeigh. In Oklahoma City, fewer than 75 survivors and relatives showed up at the 320-seat auditorium set aside by the federal government in an FAA building to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television, though demand for seats is expected to grow keen once the trial begins. While extensive security precautions have been taken to lock down the area around the Denver courthouse where McVeigh is being held, the initial interviews of four potential jurors from a pool of 380 stirred little attention. McVeigh, in a blue shirt and khakis, smiled and greeted the assembled jury candidates when he was introduced. The defense had argued unsuccessfully that the trial atmosphere had been poisoned by news reports that McVeigh had told his lawyers he was guilty. But the first prospective juror, a financial adviser identified as Number 858, described a fairly open mind, admitting that while he is aware of developments in the case, he had not yet made up his mind about McVeigh, suspects that co-conspirators may still be unidentified and believes the government acted too aggressively in handling the incidents at Waco and Ruby Ridge. But the first candidates for the jury left no doubt about their feelings as to the proper penalty if he is convicted. McVeigh s gaze grew steely as they told the lawyers that if he is convicted, he should face the death penalty. Selection of 12 jurors and six alternates is expected to take about two weeks.