DENVER -- After spending 7 1/2 hours in its first day of deliberations, the jurors in the Oklahoma City bombing trial retired yesterday evening without a verdict.
"Let this matter rest," Judge Richard P. Matsch advised the jury as it assembled in the courtroom at 5 p.m. He told members not to discuss Timothy J. McVeigh's guilty or innocence overnight. Deliberations, he said, take place only in the jury room.
Survivors and relatives who had hurried to the courthouse hoping for a verdict left quickly. Many of them have changed plane reservations to stay in Denver through today in hopes they can hear the jury's decision.
The jurors, who are sequestered, are expected to deliberate through the weekend if necessary.
Yesterday, their day began with instructions from Matsch, who explained the 11-count indictment against McVeigh and advised them on how to apply federal law in the murder and conspiracy case.
He warned they must not be swayed by "sympathy, prejudice or public opinion."
"You must completely disregard anything you have seen, read or heard outside this courtroom," he told the jurors. "You must not allow public opinion to play any role in your deliberations."
McVeigh, 29, is accused of detonating the truck bomb April 19, 1995, that blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City -- the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history -- which killed 168 people and injured more than 500.
Prosecutors say McVeigh was obsessed with anger against the government. Defense attorneys say that he is innocent and that the government's circumstantial case against him is deeply flawed.
After listening to Matsch's instructions, the jurors filed out solemnly. McVeigh spoke briefly with his lawyers and then, with his hands in his pockets, walked from the courtroom to his cell.
Outside the courthouse, relatives of some of the bombing victims said they are awaiting the jury's decision nervously.
"I'm very uncomfortable," said Dan McKinney, whose wife and niece died. "The anxiety's just so high -- the worry that there's something the jury didn't like that they won't see eye to eye on."
What would he do as he awaited the verdict? "Go crazy," he said.
Pub Date: 5/31/97