Attacking the Witness

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DENVER: Lawyers for Timothy McVeigh began their attack against key government witness Lori Fortier, painting her as a drug user and opportunistic liar. Defense Attorney Stephen Jones hammered at Fortier's character, asking why she didn't inform federal authorities if she really knew McVeigh was planning to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah building: "All you would have had to do to prevent the deaths of these 168 people was to pick up the telephone?" "Yes," she replied. Jones had Fortier read aloud a news release that she and her husband Michael wrote shortly after McVeigh's arrest: "Timothy McVeigh is a close friend of my family and mine. From knowing him I believe in no way that he was responsible for this crime." Months later, Jones noted, Fortier changed her story and agreed to testify against McVeigh. "Jones did a great job of bringing Fortier's credibility into question," TIME's Patrick Cole reports from the trial. "It may not be enough to make the jury forget all the damaging statements she made, but he probably was effective in making them question whether this person can be believed at all." Prosecutors will have a chance at damage control Thursday, when they will have an opportunity to question Fortier further.