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.
- Jack Ruby: The Original “Trial of the Century”
- US v Timothy McVeigh: The Oklahoma City Bombing Trial (this webinar)
Resources and Handouts
- A Treatise on the Nature, Principles and Rules of Circumstantial Evidence by Alexander Burrill: Internet Archive (free) and Amazon **Focus on pages 582-602 for the relevant section for this webinar.
- Transcript of the Oklahoma City Bombing Trial (Oklahoman Newspaper)
- American Terrorist by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck
- Others Unknown by Stephen Jones
- One of Ours by Rick Serrano
- Simple Truths by Jon Hersley, Larry Tongate and Bob Burke
- Brandon Birmingham’s Documentary Podcast
- “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