Monday, June 11, 2001

Randolph Guzman Sr. kneels today near the chair for his son,
Marine Capt. Randolph Guzman, while visiting the Oklahoma
City National Memorial. The younger Guzman had relatives
in Hawaii and was based at Kaneohe Marine Corps
base for four years.

Last breath

Isle relatives
of victims say they
are moving forward

'You're not going to see this
cocky-looking guy anymore. It's
over with,' says the Mililani
uncle of one victim

McVeigh died silently
It was over in minutes
McVeigh chose fate, Bush says
Execution foes rally

By B.J. Reyes

For Gerald DeGuzman, whose nephew Randy Guzman was among the 168 people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, this morning's execution of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh is as close as he will get to obtaining a sense of closure.

"It can't get any more final than it is now," DeGuzman said. "I guess it's not 100 percent closure, but it's as close as you can get.

"The only thing is, it's not exactly an eye for an eye, 168 vs. one."

Still, DeGuzman is satisfied knowing his nephew's killer won't be able to squeeze through any legal loopholes.

"At least it's over, and we know that he's not going to get away," the Mililani resident said. "You're not going to see this cocky-looking guy anymore. It's over with."

McVeigh was put to death by chemical injection at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the worst act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil. He was pronounced dead at 2:14 a.m. Hawaii time.

Guzman, who was 28, was one of two people with Hawaii ties killed in the blast. A Marine captain, Guzman was killed while working as operations manager of the Marine recruiting office on the sixth floor of the federal building. Raised in California, Guzman drew close to his extended Hawaii family while stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base for four years beginning in 1989.

Also killed in the bombing was Peter Avillanoza, 57, a former Honolulu police officer and an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development here. He was director of HUD's fair housing and equal opportunity division in Oklahoma City.

For Sonya Dallago, one of 10 children of Avillanoza, McVeigh's execution proved anti-climactic.

"For me and my family, we're just moving on," she said. "Like I've said, it's not going to bring my dad back."

Others expressed similar sentiments.

"I just move forward," said Rudy Guzman, Randy Guzman's brother. "Tim McVeigh's not around. He can't hurt us anymore. He can't hurt us with his words.

"I'll move forward and also have my memories of my brother Randy," said Guzman, speaking to cable network MSNBC from Oklahoma City, where he was among the relatives gathered to watch the execution on a closed-circuit broadcast. "I'll always be thinking about him, but I'm just going to move forward, move on with my life and always keep Randy's memory in my heart."

Guzman, who lives in Alameda, Calif., said he's been buoyed by the support that bombing victims' relatives have shown for each other throughout the aftermath of the blast.

"It's like an exclusive club that we didn't want to join," he said. "We always have each other for support, for the love and for just the caring of what's going on.

"Everyone here lost a brother or a sister, a father, a mother, grandparents, children. We're all together to help each other out, which is a good thing that came up about this."

Guzman was the only family member to watch the closed-circuit broadcast in Oklahoma City, DeGuzman said.

He agreed that the bombing has galvanized family members.

"I think it's brought some of us a little bit closer together," he said. "We were all concerned about the same thing."

Still, he looks forward to the day when he can put the tragedy behind him.

"It'll be nice when all of this is finished and we don't have to talk about it anymore," he said. "That doesn't mean we're not going to think about Randy."

Angela Richerson, left, of McLoud, Okla., hugs her
10-year-old son, Matthew, after placing flowers on
the memorial chair to her mother, Norma Jean Johnson,
at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in downtown
Oklahoma City today.

McVeigh died silently

By Rex W. Huppke
Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Offering no trace of remorse, Timothy McVeigh went to his death today with the same flinty look he showed the world when he was first arrested for killing 168 people in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

McVeigh received a chemical injection from the government he despised, and was pronounced dead at 8:14 a.m. EDT. He died silently, with his eyes open.

Instead of making an oral statement, McVeigh, 33, the first federal prisoner executed in 38 years, issued a copy of the 1875 poem "Invictus," which concludes with the lines: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."

In Oklahoma City, 232 survivors and victims' relatives watched a closed-circuit TV broadcast of the execution, sent from Terre Haute in a feed encrypted to guard against interception.

Some said McVeigh seemed to stare straight at them from 620 miles away by gazing directly into the overhead TV camera in the death chamber with a cold, hard look.

"I think I did see the face of evil today," said Kathy Wilburn, whose grandsons Chase Smith, 3, and Colton, 2, died in the bombing six years ago on April 19, 1995. It was the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

In Washington, President Bush declared that McVeigh had "met the fate he chose for himself six years ago."

"Today, every living person who was hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma City can rest in the knowledge that there has been a reckoning," Bush said.

In a recent letter to The Buffalo News, McVeigh said his body would be released to one his attorneys and cremated, and his ashes would be scattered in an undisclosed location.

In Oklahoma City, Kathleen Treanor, whose 4-year-old daughter, Ashley, and her husband's parents died in the bombing, watched the closed-circuit broadcast. Afterward, she held up a picture of her daughter and said: "I thought of her every step of the way."

Treanor said the scene at the broadcast was quiet and respectful. But Karen Jones, whose husband was killed in the attack, said she heard a few people clap after it was over and a few cried.

Several of those who witnessed the execution, either in person or on television, complained that death by injection was too easy a way for McVeigh die.

"He didn't suffer at all. The man just went to sleep, or as I said, the monster did," said bombing survivor Sue Ashford, who watched in person. "I think they should have done the same thing to him as he did in Oklahoma."

Larry Whicher, the brother of a bombing victim, said McVeigh looked straight into the camera with a cold, blank stare in the moments before he died -- "and that stare said volumes." The camera was suspended from the ceiling and pointed at an angle at his face.

"He had a look of defiance and that if he could, he'd do it all over again," Whicher said. He added: "I don't think he gave himself to the Lord. I don't think he repented and personally I think he's in hell."

Jay Sawyer, who also watched via TV, said: "Without saying anything, he got the final word, absolutely. His teeth were clenched, just like when they showed him coming out of that facility when he was first arrested. His teeth were clenched, his lips were pursed and just a blank stare."

Janice Smith, whose brother Lanny Scroggins died in the bombing, prayed with her children at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, then left after getting word that McVeigh was dead.

"It's over," she said. "We don't have to continue with him anymore."

Renee Findley, who lost a friend in the bombing, said at the memorial: "There's some relief, but it really doesn't change anything. It still hurts."

McVeigh's lawyer Robert Nigh somberly reminded reporters that the government not only executed the Oklahoma City bomber, but also a decorated Gulf War veteran, a son and a brother. He said there was "nothing reasonable or moral about what we did today."

"If there is anything good that can come from the execution of Tim McVeigh, it may be to help us realize sooner that we simply cannot do this anymore," Nigh said.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, who authorized the closed-circuit broadcast, was in Oklahoma City when McVeigh was put to death. He did not watch the broadcast but wanted to be with the families of the victims, officials said.

For security reasons, Ashcroft's whereabouts had been kept secret until the execution was carried out.

McVeigh's co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, sat in his jail cell in Oklahoma City with no access to radio or television. Nichols was convicted on federal charges of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy and was sentenced to life in prison. Oklahoma prosecutors are pursuing state murder charges that could bring the death penalty.

The day before McVeigh's execution, his attorneys said that he was sorry for those who suffered but that he didn't regret detonating a massive bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

McVeigh received a mixture of sodium thiopental, to sedate him; pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant that collapses the diaphragm and lungs; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

McVeigh's four witnesses were Nigh, defense attorney Nathan Chambers, former defense team member Cate McCauley and Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel, who co-wrote a recent book on the bomber in which he admitted to the crime.

No members of McVeigh's family traveled to Terre Haute, at his request. His father, Bill, left his home in Pendleton, N.Y., near Buffalo, over the weekend for an undisclosed location.

Defiant to the end, McVeigh had told those close to him in his final days that he still considered himself the victor in his one-man war against a government he labeled a bully for its disastrous raids at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge in Idaho.

Prison officials said McVeigh spent Sunday writing letters, sleeping, watching television and meeting with Nigh and Chambers. He was served his final requested meal Sunday afternoon, eating two pints of mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

Less than 24 hours before his death, McVeigh's mood had been upbeat, his attorneys said. "He continues to be affable," Chambers said. "He continues to be rational in his discourse. He maintains his sense of humor."

McVeigh was born in Pendleton in 1968 and raised Roman Catholic in a middle-class environment. As he grew up, he developed a distrust of the government, yet he joined the Army and went on to serve in the Gulf War. He returned more disillusioned with the United States, viewing its treatment of the Iraqi people as that of a schoolyard bully.

Drifting across the country, he stewed over what he saw as government encroachment on the right to bear arms. The government raids at Waco and at the cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge brought his hatred to the boiling point.

It was over in minutes

EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer was one of 10 media representatives who witnessed Timothy McVeigh's execution.

By Rex W. Huppke
Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. >> Minutes before he took his final breath today, Timothy McVeigh raised his head, strained his neck slightly and tried to acknowledge everyone who would watch him die.

It was a quick, methodical and intense look, as though he had to count each person, had to make sure they looked into his eyes. They were the same eyes that have been burned into the American consciousness, the eyes of a man who killed 168 people with one act of rage.

After panning the room, pausing to squint toward the tinted window shielding the 10 survivors and victims' representatives, McVeigh rested his shaved head and stared straight up, seeming to concentrate on the closed-circuit camera beaming the execution to about 230 witnesses gathered 620 miles away in Oklahoma City. McVeigh was strapped to a gurney, a light gray sheet neatly folded over about midway up his chest, covering his arms and legs completely. The tops of his shoulders emerged, covered by his white T-shirt. The outline of his prison-issued slip-on sneakers could be seen through the sheet.

An IV carrying the deadly drugs was already inserted into his right leg.

Warden Harley Lappin, standing with his arms crossed, almost at attention, asked McVeigh if he had any final words. There was a one-minute pause. McVeigh's head remained fixed, his eyes still staring into the camera, rarely blinking.

Breaking the silence, the warden began reciting the charges -- using a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy and eight counts of murder, stemming from the deaths of eight law enforcement agents in the federal building. Again, no change in McVeigh's expression, just a focused stare.

"Marshal, we are ready, may we proceed?" the warden asked U.S. Marshal Frank Anderson, the only other person in the death chamber.

Anderson picked up a bright red phone off a metal tray attached to the wall. Someone on the other end spoke, Anderson hung up the phone and said simply, "Warden, we may proceed with the execution."

Then, again, silence. One of the IV lines extending through the wall jumped slightly, as the first chemical began flowing.

McVeigh swallowed hard. His eyes moved slightly from side to side. His chest moved up and down and his lips twice puffed air out, as if he were trying to maintain consciousness.

A guard in the witness room announced the first drug had been administered. Ten minutes had passed since the execution process officially began; it was 8:10 a.m. EDT.

McVeigh's eyes remained open, but they began to glass over, started rolling up just slightly. His pale skin began to turn slightly yellow, almost jaundiced. At 8:11 a.m., the guard said the second drug had been administered. The warden looked straight ahead, glancing down at McVeigh just occasionally. The convicted bomber's lips began to turn the slightest tinge of blue. He was still. His eyes remained open.

It was 8:14 a.m.

It was over.

Bomber's statement is a poem

Following is the full text of the statement by Timothy J. McVeigh -- from the 1875 poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley -- as distributed today by officials at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Bush says McVeigh
met the fate he chose

By Tom Raum
Associated Press

WASHINGTON >> Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh "met the fate he chose for himself six years ago," President Bush declared today after McVeigh's execution.

"Under the laws of our country, the matter is concluded," Bush said in the White House briefing room.

But Bush said that he recognized "the pain goes on" for survivors of the blast and the families of the dead.

A direct telephone line had been left open between the Justice Department and the White House so Bush could get word quickly once McVeigh was declared dead.

"Today, every living person who was hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma City can rest in the knowledge that there has been a reckoning," Bush said.

Bush was leaving later today for a six-day, five-country trip to Europe, where opposition to the death penalty is widespread, both from activists and government officials.

"The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have been given not vengeance, but justice. And one young man met the fate he chose for himself six years ago," Bush said.

"Final punishment of the guilty cannot alone bring peace to the innocent. It cannot recover the loss or balance the scales, and it is not meant to do so." Still, he added, out of the enormous tragedy "we have seen the good that overcomes evil."

"We saw it in the rescuers who saved and suffered with the victims. We have seen it in a community that has grieved and held close the memory of the loss.

"We have seen it in the work of detectives, marshals and police, and we have seen it in the courts.

"Due process ruled. The case was proved. The verdict was calmly reached. And the rights of the accused were protected and observed to the full and to the end," Bush added.

"May God in his mercy grant peace to all, to the lives that were taken six years ago, to the lives that go on, and to the life that ended today," Bush said.

Bert Fitzgerald, left, and his wife Alice, from Madison, Ind.,
hold candles in an area reserved for anti-death penalty
protesters outside the U.S. Penitentiary. “What have
we accomplished by executing Timothy McVeigh now
that there are 169 people dead?” he asked.

Death penalty
supporters and foes
rally at prison

Associated Press

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. >> Death penalty opponents stood for a weary chorus of "We Shall Overcome" after Timothy McVeigh's execution. Nearby, supporters of capital punishment toted signs saying "Remember the Victims" and "Thou shalt not kill and live."

The two sides -- in numbers far smaller than originally expected -- were separated by 400 yards of orange snow fencing and armed guards.

Unitarian minister Bill Breeden told the crowd of about 150 abolitionists that the fight against the death penalty would continue.

"We must run with the chariot and continue this struggle until it stops," Breeden said.

A few hundred yards away, about 20 death penalty supporters let out a cheer and hugged upon hearing McVeigh had been executed this morning.

Prison officials had prepared for thousands of demonstrators, but they numbered about 170 at the time of the execution and quickly dispersed. Organizers said the delay from the original execution date of May 16, and the timing just days after the last court battle was dropped, were factors in cutting the turnout.

In the wee hours of the morning, candles flickered as death penalty opponents, heads bowed, sat in a circle, silently mouthing the names on a list of the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

They remained silent for 168 minutes -- one minute for each victim of the bombing.

Protesters on both sides held signs in the glare of television spotlights.

The larger contingent of death penalty opponents sat on straw bales, some holding flickering candles in milk carton holders.

"What have we accomplished by executing Timothy McVeigh now that there are 169 people dead?" asked 49-year-old Bert Fitzgerald of Madison, Ind.

Some people who oppose the death penalty make an exception for McVeigh, noted 21-year-old Eric Sears, a student at St. Louis University who came with a group from Chicago. But he said there should be no exception. "The death penalty is vengeance. It's not justice."

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