Juror Reflects McVeigh Conviction

How the jury, like, convicted Timothy McVeigh and totally sentenced him to death, by juror (and 1995 University of Minnesota marketing grad) Tonya Stedman, as told to Vicki Stavig in the UM's alumni magazine, Minnesota:

The first time I laid eyes on Timothy McVeigh was during voir dire. He was there while I was questioned. I remember sitting down and checking out the courtroom and thinking, "Oh my God, that's Timothy McVeigh."

During the trial, there was some monotony, some repetition, and cross-examination that went on and on. I thought, "OK, OK, you're beating a dead horse." The survivors' testimony was totally different. It was very emotional. I had a very deep passion and empathy for them. Their testimony was gut-wrenching, almost surreal. The first photos really jolted me. I saw blood, babies, and broken limbs. Initially it got to me, but then I became a little numb to it--"Oh, another dead body..." It was almost like watching a movie.

Dana Bradley [a survivor], who had to have her leg removed [at the bombing site], gave some of the more gripping testimony. The doctor had to finish the procedure with a pocket knife. He was visibly shaken on the stand. I could just see it: the woman sobbing and screaming and this poor doctor has to cut off her leg. For me, personally, his testimony was very gripping.

We had to take 11 votes. At the 11th vote, the 12th [juror's] answer was "guilty," and the hands of the clock hit 12:00 noon. It was really freaky.

I was comfortable in voting for the death penalty.... If anyone deserved the death penalty, he did. The part that was frightening was, what were we going to do now, after being part of this big trial for so long? It was midafternoon. We exchanged telephone numbers and had a little debriefing with the judge.

My answering machine was overloaded with media calls for four days. Barbara Walters left a message saying, "I wanted to call and congratulate you. We're all very proud of you."

After the trial, I moved twice, but things are settling down. I've had some people contact me about going into broadcast media and, if an opportunity presents itself, I'm not afraid to go with it. Meanwhile, I would like to write a book about my experience on the jury and my evolution as a person.

The trial definitely changed me. I was 24 years old and, all of a sudden, I was responsible for making a decision about someone else's life. It was a huge responsibility. I became an adult.

 
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