McVeigh's Former Lawyer Speaks Out

He Says McVeigh Was A Coward

Stephen Jones says Tim McVeigh was a coward and a terrorist.

What makes this unusual? Jones was once McVeigh's lawyer.

"Everything Tim McVeigh says is a lie," Jones says.

An Oklahoma attorney, Jones was appointed by a federal court, and led the McVeigh defense at trial. But Jones no longer fights for his former client – he takes him on, Erin Moriarty reports.

"It was my duty to represent him. But it is not my duty to remain silent after he has attacked me," says Jones.

Jones spoke out after McVeigh complained in a book that Jones had botched his defense. Normally, an attorney is barred from ever revealing his clients' secrets. But Jones says when Mcveigh attacked him, the latter lost that protection.

"I said to him, the attorney-client privilege is a shield, It isn't a sword," Jones recalls. "You can't raise it, lower it, stab me in the back and when I turn around, raise it up again." Jones wants to set the record straight.

Jones spent the first 2 and a half years after the bombing with McVeigh. "I would venture that I know him better than anyone else," he says.

Jones says McVeigh was driven by anger, and that this anger began when he was bullied. "Tim was bullied in high school. He saw the army as a bully," says Jones.

McVeigh’s mother, Mickey Hill, has said she never saw any sign of trouble. "He never drank beer or liquor, he was never in trouble," she said.

But Jones says McVeigh had trouble making close friends, and his mother and father’s frequent marital battles left him feeling angry and isolated.

"I think the root of Tim McVeigh's madness lies in trying to blot out consciousness of these terrific arguments between his mother and father," he says. "He would lie in bed at night and think they were going to kill each other, they were so bad. And he would distract his attention by slaying monsters. And I think it began there."

After a stint in the Army, where he served as a tank gunner in the Persian Gulf War, McVeigh focused his anger on the U.S. government. The federal building became his target.

"I remember as (McVeigh) described the bomb," Jones recalls. "In the mental picture of my mind, I could see men and women and children falling nine floors as this building was crashing down. I had to remain objective, show no emotion, encourage him to talk. It was the longest day of my life."

“He told me very matter of factly as though we were having a conversation about repairing an automobile.” Jones says. He says McVeigh showed no remorse.

McVeigh publicly claimed sole responsibility for the blast. Jones has never believed this claim. "He just ain't that smart," says Jones. "He did not plan and mastermind the Oklahoma City bombing."

Jones says the FBI's own recently released documents also point to other conspirators. And then, says Jones, there's the bomb itself.

Jones says that McVeigh spent hours telling him how he made the bomb. But according to Jones, ne expert who analyzed McVeigh's supposed bomb recipe said that it would not have worked.

Further proof, says Jones, is a letter from McVeigh that Jones could not reveal until now. The letter, which was dated Nov. 24, 1996, was hand written by McVeigh, Jones says. In it, Mcveigh apparently told Jones that he should not point the finger at anyone else. "I've been practicing law 36 years - I have never received such a letter," says Jones.

Jones also points to the polygraph exam that McVeigh allegedly flunked.

"Was anybody else with you in Oklahoma City? Executing the bomb? No. Deception," Jones says, going over the questions and answers on which McVeigh was judged to have been deceptive. "Was anyone else involved other than Terry Nichols in planning the bomb? No. Deception. Was James Nichols involved? No. Deception."

Why would McVeigh claim to be the mastermind? For three reasons, Jones says: "One, it satisfies a deep personal need - a self-loathing - that he has to enlarge his role. No. 2, he wants to protect others. He's a good soldier. No. 3 he wants others to copy him."

Jones was replaced as McVeigh's lead counsel in 1998, and returned home to Enid, Okla., a changed man: "Personally, it destroyed my law practice removed me from the corridors of political power in Oklahoma. It placed me under a great deal of scrutiny and criticism."

Even after McVeigh's death, Jones is still angry and afraid. "Frankly, one of the reasons I am talking to you and defending myself is that I don't know who might read that book and think, 'Well, Steve Jones sold him down the river. So let's get Stephen Jones.' Is there a threat? Of course there's a threat."

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