BOMBING victims react to news of withheld evidence

Friday, May 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Her fellow Oklahoma City bombing victims were shocked and upset at news that that the FBI mistakenly withheld boxes of evidence from defense lawyers during Timothy McVeigh's federal bombing trial.

But Kathy Wilburn said she was excited.

``I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas morning,'' Wilburn said Thursday. ``I can't wait to find out what's in there.''

Wilburn's grandsons, Chase and Colton Smith, were among the children killed in the America's Kids day care on April 19, 1995. Believing McVeigh didn't act alone in the crime, Wilburn and late husband, Glenn, launched their own investigation after the bombing.

``I don't know what's there, but I'm looking forward to it,'' she said.

Other bombing victims were concerned that the disclosure would halt McVeigh's execution scheduled for Wednesday, while others were not surprised.

``I'm appalled. The FBI knew from the very beginning that this was a huge case. How could they have possibly made a mistake this huge? I don't get it,'' Kathleen Treanor, whose 4-year-old daughter and in-laws were killed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, said Thursday.

McKinney, whose wife, Linda, was killed in the explosion, wondered why the disclosure makes any difference.

``He is guilty. That is proven,'' McKinney said. ``He has admitted it. What do they need now?''

Treanor said she and her family have suffered enough.

``The laws are to protect the righteous from evil. I don't care if he is personable. As far as I'm concerned he's a spawn of Satan,'' she said of McVeigh.

The Department of Justice notified McVeigh's attorneys May 8 about the documents, which should have been provided to them during the discovery phase of McVeigh's 1997 federal trial in Denver.

A statement released Thursday said, ``While the Department is confident the documents do not in any way create any reasonable doubt about McVeigh's guilt and do not contradict his repeated confessions of guilt, the Department is concerned that McVeigh's attorneys were not able to review them at the appropriate time.''

Stephen Jones, McVeigh's former attorney, said from almost his first day on the job, he experienced obstructions and delays. He said federal prosecutors assured him he would receive a copy of every FBI 302 form, but said he never received them. The forms are reports of interviews and sworn statements by investigators.

Jones said he didn't know if the evidence would clear McVeigh but said it could have an impact on his sentence. He also said it could be an opportunity for McVeigh to embarass the government.

``He wants the government defeated and he may see this as an enormous embarassment, sort of chuckle to himself and say `Well let's see what develops,' 5/8'' Jones said.

Catherine Simonds and Martha Ridley said they were not surprised by what happened and suspect a stay could be in the works.

``We all knew there is a possibility he might get a stay,'' said Simonds, whose father, Claude Medearis, died in the bombing. ``One of these days, he will meet his maker, whether or not it is May 16.''

Ridley, whose daughter Kathy Ridley died in the bombing, said she believed the latest developments were part of plot by McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols.

``I'm just sitting here watching this plot unroll,'' said Ridley, who plans to witness McVeigh's execution. ``I hate to see it, but Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are playing the American public like a cheap guitar.''

Earnestine Looney, whose 2-year-old grandson, Dominique London, died in the second-floor day care, said the delay could identify others possibly involved in the bombing.

``Maybe if we execute him too fast, you'll never find out nothing,'' Looney said.

But Paul Heath, a psychologist who was in the 5th floor Veterans Administration office when the bomb exploded, said he wouldn't reach a conclusion yet.

``I'm not going to read something into the announcement today,'' Heath said. ``I'll wait and let the judge review and let him tell us what it means.''