FBI brings key witness in Oklahoma bombing trial

BRADY McCOMBS

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal employee who managed operations at the building bombed in Oklahoma City in 1995 is set to testify about surveillance cameras as the FBI attempts to show there are no unreleased videos of the attack.

FBI attorneys plan to call a former General Services Administration employee, Richard Williams, to testify Thursday during what is likely to be the final day of a federal trial in Salt Lake City that began Monday. The outcome will determine whether the agency must carry out additional searches for security camera videos.

The trial stems from a lawsuit brought six years ago by Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue. He believes a video exists showing Timothy McVeigh was not alone in detonating the bomb, and that the FBI has not adequately searched its archives for the video.

Trentadue believes the presence of a second suspect explains why his brother was flown to Oklahoma several months after the bombing, where he died in a federal holding cell. Kenneth Trentadue bore a striking resemblance to a police sketch based on witness descriptions of the enigmatic suspect "John Doe No. 2," who was never identified

On Wednesday, a police officer who was at the scene of the bombing said that he saw FBI agents climbing ladders and taking surveillance cameras off of the federal building after the attack. Another woman testified that surveillance cameras on the apartment building where she lived that pointed toward the federal building should have recorded the bomb going off.

Both acknowledged under cross-examination that they didn't know if the cameras were operational, or if video was ever collected from them.

The FBI also plans to bring other federal employees to the stand Thursday as well as Charlie Hanger, the Oklahoma highway patrolman who arrested McVeigh in 1995 and who is now a county sheriff. Trentadue wants a video taken from Hanger's patrol car dash camera. An FBI employee testified that the video was returned to the highway patrol several years ago.

Other FBI employees have testified that the agency has searched its archives and found no evidence of more videos. They say additional searches would be burdensome and fruitless.

The FBI has given Trentadue 30 video recordings, but they don't show the explosion or McVeigh's arrival in the truck.

If he wins, Trentadue hopes to be able to search for the tapes himself rather than having to accept the FBI's answer that they don't exist.

It's a bench trial, meaning there is no jury and U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups will issue a ruling.