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The Next Trial of the Century [Kids Today / USA Today]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today / USA Today
Cover story
Nov. 12, 1995

So you think the trial of the century is over? Actually, it begins May 17 in Lawton, Okla. Well, prepare for the next one, when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols head to the courtroom.

They have been accused of setting off a bomb in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, that killed 169 people. They have different lawyers, and may ask for separate trials. No matter if you think they did it, both are innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to a trial in front of a jury of 12 peers. In May, the lawyers and the judge will pick jury. Then, the trial (or trials) will start.

Most of the attention has been on Timothy McVeigh, the first man arrested in the case. The prosecuting attorney, Pat Ryan, is trying to convict McVeigh—and his defense attorney, Stephen Jones, has a big job ahead of him.

After all, McVeigh is suspected of making a fertilizer bomb, planting it in a truck and blowing the whole thing up in front of the County Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

“The trial will test our commitment to the ideal of a fair trial of even the most hated among us,” Jones says.

Ryan predicts the trial will last about four months. In that time, he says he’ll prove beyond a reasonable doubt that McVeigh and Nichols committed the crime. If the jury finds them guilty, they could spend their lives in prison.

Following the trial won’t be easy for a kid. It won’t likely be like the O.J. Simpson trial, either, because after all that media frenzy many judges banned cameras from being in the courtroom. Many journalists are upset about this, but that’s another case.


*Defendant—*The person accused of wrongdoing.

*Jury—*A certain number of people, usually 12, chosen from the community to judge a person’s guilt or innocence.

*Convict—*To find a defendant guilty of a crime.

*Acquit—*To find a defendant not guilty of a crime. *Defense Attorney—*The attorney who represents the defendant.

*Prosecuting Attorney—*The government attorney who tries to prove the defendant has committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

*Fair Trial—*A trial that allows each side to present evidence to a fair judge or jury before judgment is made.

*Reasonable Doubt—*The standard used to determine the guilt or innocence of a person in a criminal trial. A doubt that would cause an average person to hesitate to find someone guilty.

*Evidence—*Information presented at trial to be a judge or jury, including witness statements, documents, exhibits, pictures and blood evidence.

*Alibi—*The defendant can prove he or she was away from the crime scene during the crime was committed.

*Venue—*The town where the trial is held. This trial’s venue may be changed to ensure a fair trial.


More Kids Today / USA Today Articles

"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.