A City's Longing for Justice
OKLAHOMA CITY — Scarred slippery elm that stands alone in the vacant clay lot across from the Murrah building has come to symbolize the resilience of Oklahoma City residents. Its bifurcated trunk may also come to symbolize the different paths those here are taking in the search for justice.
For some residents, every ounce of justice must be squeezed from every possible venue available. For others, the guilty verdicts delivered to Timothy McVeigh on June 2 have given them release.
"It's another step forward in the process of telling this story, hopefully, so it can be prevented from happening again," says Paul Heath, a survivor of the blast.
"Now some of these families can start the next process of trying to heal their families, and at least they know now maybe some of the facts - what happened, who did it ... justice was done," says Mayor Ron Norick.
But that is not the case for everyone.
Oklahoma City District Attorney Bob Macy has vowed to prosecute those responsible for the 160 deaths not covered explicitly in the federal charges. "There is an awful lot of evidence in this case. Prosecutors used only a small part of it. Our case will not be a mirror reflection," he says.
Mr. Macy, who wears an old-fashioned ribbon-tie and has a shiny badge on his belt, dismisses the suggestion that a second trial will be a waste of time and money. It is, he says, a matter of principle that Mr. McVeigh and Terry Nichols stand trial in Oklahoma City.
Then there are others still haunted by loose ends in the case.
State Rep. Charles Key (R) of Oklahoma City has accused the federal government of a coverup in the bombing investigation. Representative Key claims to have gathered 13,500 signatures of people who want a grand jury investigation of what he describes as "troubling" inconsistencies that point to more defendants than the two in custody. "We have been stopped and stymied along the way. The Feds are trying to cover up half of what happened here," Key complains.
For many, however, perhaps the final watershed event for them will occur in the sentencing phase.
Many here say they are seeking the maximum punishment - whatever form that might take. "I'd like to see him spend the rest of his days in prison, isolated, for the rest of his life. Lethal injection would be too easy," says Marsha Kight, whose daughter died in the bombing.
"I was talking to one of my co-workers about the death penalty," says Dale Boaz, owner of a potato chip distributing company near the bomb site. "We decided it really didn't matter at this point, you know. I guess getting him convicted and locked up is the best thing one way or another. No one is ever going to parole him, you know? I guess we've gotten mostly what we needed to accomplish," he says.