McVeigh vs. McVeigh

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DENVER: Although attorneys from sides in the Oklahoma City bombing trial tried to use Jennifer McVeigh's testimony to their advantage, TIME's Patrick Cole reports that her appearance chiefly benefited the prosecution. A calm, collected Ms. McVeigh told jurors Tuesday that she received a letter from her brother Tim a few weeks before the explosion promising "something big is going to happen in the month of the bull," an apparent astrological reference to April. Never asking what that something was, she followed her brother's instructions and burned the letter. The 23-year-old college student also recalled a file labeled ATFREAD that her brother had left on her computer. It said government agents would "swing in the wind one day" for their "treasonous actions against the Constitution" and ended with the words: "Die, you spineless, cowardice bastards." Ms. McVeigh, who recently said in an interview she doesn't know if her brother is innocent, provided jurors with a mountain of circumstantial evidence that Tim was in the frame of mind to take revenge for the government's actions at Waco. Her composure disappeared in a grueling cross-examination as the defense tried to show she had been intimidated by an arduous eight consecutive days of FBI interrogation after the bombing. Crying and dabbing her tears with tissue, she told jurors federal agents had placed blown-up pictures of her on the walls along with photocopies of federal statutes. On one, a handwritten note read: "penalty = death." She said she had no knowledge that her brother was involved in the bombing, but agents told her "that he was guilty and that he was going to fry." "McVeigh's attorneys effectively portrayed the FBI tactics as coercive and intimidating," notes Cole. "But they could not refute the physical evidence of the letters, and in particular the ATFREAD note, that are in black and white and very damaging to Tim McVeigh."