The Hard Way

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DENVER: Stephen Jones began his attempt to persuade jurors that although they've convicted his client on 11 counts in the most devastating terrorist act ever on U.S. soil, Timothy McVeigh does not deserve the death penalty. It's an almost impossible task after prosecutors spent two and a half days building a succinct and horrifying case that jurors should do exactly that. Witness after witness piled on details so gruesome that lawyers, journalists, U.S. marshals and members of the jury all wept: How, after the bomb went off, the floors of the Alfred P. Murrah building pancaked on top of each other. How rescuers had to build bridges to get across pools of body fluids. How Dania Bradley, trapped and unable to take anesthetic, screamed as a doctor sawed her leg off to free her from the ruined building. Against all this, Jones must simply ask for mercy. TIME's Patrick Cole reports that the defense will call family members, teachers and military officials as character witnesses. The defense will use the testimony to argue that McVeigh's sentence should be reduced to life in prison because his he anger over the FBI siege at Waco overwhelmed reason and led him to act. That's a tough sell for 12 jurors who just spent three days weeping over the 168 people McVeigh killed.