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Ore. Judge Imposes Death Sentences for Father, Son in 2008 Bank Bombing That Killed Two Officers

Ore. Judge Imposes Death Sentences for Father-Son Duo in 2008 Bank Bombing
Bruce Turnidge, Joshua Turnidge (CBS/KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (CBS/AP) Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, a gun-loving father and son duo convicted of planting a bomb that killed two Oregon police officers, claimed Monday that they were innocent and did not receive fair trials, just moments before a judge imposed a jury's recommendation and sentenced them to death.

Bruce Turnidge, 58, and his 38-year-old son, Joshua, were convicted in December of planting a homemade bomb at the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, Ore. two years ago.

The bomb exploded, killing William Hakim, a police bomb technician who was trying to dismantle it, as well as Woodburn police Capt. Tom Tennant. The town's police chief, Scott Russell, lost a leg in the explosion, which authorities say was part of an attempt to rob the bank.

In his only courtroom comments during the four-month trial, Bruce Turnidge claimed the state disregarded his constitutional rights.

"We know the jury didn't look at any evidence," he said, looking most of the time at journalists sitting in the jury box.

The same nine women and three men who deliberated for less than five hours before returning guilty verdicts for both men on all 18 counts, which included aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and assault charges, also unanimously recommended that the two men be sentenced to death.

Judge Tom Hart signed death warrants for both men Monday, and additionally sentenced them to two consecutive 10-year terms for attempted murder of two victims who were injured in the blast.

"It's easy to step up now when you're not under oath and address the media...and pontificate about how somehow you were not treated fairly," Hart said.

According to testimony, father and son exulted in the Oklahoma City bombing, and Bruce Turnidge viewed Timothy McVeigh as a hero. Prosecutors also said both men believed the Obama administration would crack down on their rights to own guns. The attack occurred about a month after Obama was elected.

The Turnidges become the 35th and 36th people on Oregon's death row. Death sentences are automatically reviewed by the Oregon Supreme Court.

"Tom did not deserve to die in the manner in which he did," said Tennant's widow, Mary Tennant, on Monday. "Nobody deserves to die that way."

Hakim's widow, Terri, had more pointed words for the men convicted of killing her husband: "Bill will be known for being and dying an honorable man, you will be known for dying as cowards."

Both men maintained their innocence.