Sowing the Seeds of Doubt

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DENVER: As deliberations in the Oklahoma City bombing trial continue, TIME's Patrick Cole reports that prosecutors are supremely confident that jurors will rule against Timothy McVeigh while the defense is hoping that a strong closing argument will bring reasonable doubt. It's about all McVeigh attorney Stephen Jones has left. After more than two years of preparation, spending between three and ten million dollars on the case, Jones presented only 25 witnesses in three days of testimony. The suddenness of the defense argument, contrasted with a sharp and thorough prosecution that crisply made its points with more than 125 witnesses over three weeks, had many believing the defense had blown it. But Cole notes that McVeigh's lawyers made inroads in closing arguments that attacked star prosecution witness Michael Fortier and the forensic evidence in the case. Christopher Tritico hit hard at the prosecutors' assertion that traces of the explosive PETN found on McVeigh linked him to the bombing, insisting that much more should have been there if McVeigh was the culprit. "The government didn't give you any PETN from McVeigh's car," Tritico said. "Why? Because there wasn't any. Where is the PETN on the door handle? Where is the PETN on the fingerprint card at the Noble County Courthouse?" "It seemed Tritico was getting through to the jury, and he was certainly getting through to even the biggest skeptics of the defense's case," notes Cole. "When Judge Richard Matsch adjourned for the day, it was still clear that while the defense had its back against the wall, the prosecution still had holes in its case." The big hurdle for the prosecution is that despite a mountain of evidence showing McVeigh had a motive for the attack, despite Fortier's assertion that McVeigh plotted the bombing for months, the government did not present eyewitness testimony placing McVeigh at the scene of the crime. The question is whether jurors will connect the dots where it lacks concrete evidence. The jury will deliberate throughout the weekend and will be sequestered until a decision is reached.