Village Life News Archives Oklahoma City Bombing Trial Promises Pain for Victims

by United Methodist News Service

NEW YORK (UMNS) -- The trial of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, to begin March 31 in Denver, promises fresh pain for Anne Marshall.

Marshall's husband of nearly 13 years, Raymond Johnson, was one of the 168 victims who died when a bomb blast destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building on April 19, 1995. He was a Social Security Administration employee.

"The emotional pain really hasn't lessened that much since April of '95," said Marshall, employed here as an executive with the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. "You have to deal with it."

She decided recently to give up an opportunity to testify later against a second suspect, Terry Nichols, because it would have prevented her from following McVeigh's trial.

Instead, she intends to join the lottery for the 24 court seats allotted to family members of victims. Each family will be given a seat or seats for a week during McVeigh's trial, expected to last a minimum of three to four months and probably longer.

Although she's had a lot of contact with the U.S. attorneys involved in the bombing cases, Marshall said she has felt a "sense of disconnect" because she lives in New York, where the bombing rarely makes the news these days. "Whenever I go back to Oklahoma, there's a lot of emphasis placed on it," she explained.

But distance hasn't made the ordeal much easier. She still picks up the phone often to call their Oklahoma home and tell her husband about the day's events or some news item she's heard about. "It rings," she said. "Then I realize he's dead and he's not there." The sight of an older couple walking together also can prompt a jolt of painful reality. "I suddenly realize that I'm not going to have anybody when I'm 65," Marshall said.

That lost promise of their future life together -- Johnson was to retire at the end of 1995 and join her in New York -- has helped fuel Marshall's anger against McVeigh and Nichols.

"They gave us a sentence that we have to live with ... of me living without my husband," she declared.

The different aspects of who she is -- a widow, a Christian, a Native American -- have produced conflicting emotions about whether the death penalty should be imposed if the defendants are found guilty.

Marshall acknowledges that as a Christian, she should forgive, and as a Native American, she should follow traditional beliefs that justice be allowed to take its own course.

As a widow, however, she's not sure forgiveness is possible.

©1997 American News Service

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