The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh: The OKC Bombing Trial

The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh: The OKC Bombing Trial
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-11-19
Unit 1 Slide Deck: The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh
Unit 2 Transcript: The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh
Unit 3 Workbook: The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh
Unit 4 Recording: The United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh

Silently enraged about the perceived murder of innocent Americans by their own Government at the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco and in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, as well as the perceived encroachment on American’s right to keep and bear arms, Timothy James McVeigh spent months planning and executing the deadliest domestic terrorism act in American History. Tim McVeigh, was apprehended 70 plus miles north of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building a little more than an hour later after the fatal blow.  This session aims to dissect the details surrounding the United States of America v. Timothy James McVeigh case to determine whether or not he had the motive, means, and opportunity to commit the atrocity that killed a total of 168 men, women, children, and babies on April 19th, 1995.

Back on Justice Clearinghouse is Judge Brandon Birmingham. Judge Birmingham is the elected Judge of the 292nd Judicial District Court, a felony trial court. He is also the current presiding judge of the Felony Domestic Violence Court program and Criminal District Courts in Dallas County.

Specifics of the discussion include:

  • The event: The targeted building, the venue’s state when the bombing happened, the immediate response and its challenges, and the findings of the forensic explosive analysis.
  • The axle that served as the key to opening up the investigation to the case – how it led to a truck rental that identified the person who rented it.
  • The neighborhood canvas based on the details known so far that led to a motel that rented a room to a Tim McVeigh.
  • Utilizing the National Crime Information Center database to find a man of the same name apprehended by Oklahoma State Highway Patrol on the date of the bombing.
  • The USA v. Tim McVeigh trial: The primary questions the trial aimed to answer by proving motive, means, and opportunity.
  • The various paraphernalia found in Tim McVeigh’s car and personal belongings that proves motive.
  • Proving opportunity by juxtaposing the defendant at the precise time and location of the incident, which in this case was purely circumstantial based on the Highway Patrol’s point and time of arrest.
  • The multi-layered proof of means uncovered in the course of the investigation.
    • The three accomplices whose testimonies laid out the context for Tim McVeigh’s actions and corroborated timelines.
    • The prepaid calling card and its retrieved records that provided detailed leads linking Tim McVeigh and accomplices to procuring the materials and ingredients for the bomb.
    • Confirmation from the various businesses from which the materials and ingredients of the bomb were either purchased or stolen.
    • Paladin Press’ records that verified Tim McVeigh’s purchase of books on making weapons and explosives.
    • Physical evidence and surveillance data that substantiated the link between Tim McVeigh and critical locations linked to planning and procurement activities and the bombing itself.
  • Arriving at the final decision which considered the proofs of motive, opportunity, and means that ultimately sentenced Tim McVeigh with death penalty.

Questions from the webinar attendees were about:

  • References on circumstantial evidence, transcript, and details of the case.
  • Timothy McVeigh’s intention for the deed.
  • Further investigation on the unknown left leg.
  • Lessons learned from the case in terms of proving motive, means, and opportunity.


This the second in a series of two webinars. 


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “This was so detailed! …. I was enamored with the presentation all of the way through.” — Aaron
  • “Efforts of many made a conviction possible….. All the work that went into the case, how it was built and how all the pieces and circumstantial evidence were tied to McVeigh to get a conviction. You hear about cases but don’t realize sometimes the research, the resources and time that is needed to prosecute cases especially a case such as McVeigh’s. Very interesting webinar. Thank you!” — Abby
  • “I really appreciated the detailed analysis shared here.” — Tim
  • “I really enjoy after-action reviews of critical incidents from a prosecution and tactical standpoint.” — Elizabeth
  • “This webinar provided a perfect example of why my agency needs to create a database for “pocket trash” when a vehicle is inventoried. The Oklahoma Officer was unaware of who he had arrested, but was later able to help connect the dots with what was found in the vehicle.” — Jennifer
  • “I had heard about this case because it is a very well known case, but just to hear about all the details and the planning behind it and how he got caught, is amazing. The presenter was also very professional and had a nice and calm demeanor. He was great!!!” — Karina
  • “Love, love, love Judge Birmingham’s presentations. Thank you, he is incredibly knowledgeable and makes these cases understandable and accessible.” — Laura


Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: The Oklahoma City Bombing Trial. Q&A with Judge Brandon Birmingham
Webinar presenter Judge Brandon Birmingham answered a number of your questions after his presentatio […]
3 years ago
Jack Ruby: The Original Trial of the Century
In our world where news travel fast and cameras are everywhere, incidents and case trials generate m […]
5 years ago
Ask Me Anything: Workplace Violence and Mass Shootings
In this three-part seminar series we start with a question we often use in class: Somewhere in your […]
6 years ago
Developing a PIO Support Program for Families During Mass Casualty Events
The recent shooting in Kentucky was the 11th of the year, and the worst so far. This statistic is di […]
6 years ago
Managing Mass Casualty Events: Lessons Learned from the Aurora Movie Theater Shooting
Coming from a horrifying shooting incident in Las Vegas that killed 59 and injured 500 more, the sub […]