'Just burn in hell,' family witness would tell bomber
By Howard Greninger
Behind tinted glass in the federal execution chamber in Terre Haute, Peggy Broxterman held up a photograph of her son, Paul.
Next to her inside the U.S. Penitentiary, Kay Fulton held up a photograph of her brother, Paul Ice.
Each woman pressed the photographs against a glass wall just inches from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh.
"We wished maybe he could have seen them," Broxterman said of the scene inside one of three witness rooms in the execution chamber. But the room containing the 10 surviving family members had tinted glass, barring McVeigh's view.
McVeigh raised his head and gave a nod toward the survivors.
"He had his dead fish eyes, no expression in them. It was not an apologetic look, it was sort of a dead look-type thing," Broxterman said. "It wasn't sad, it wasn't quiet. We all talked. Some people mentioned a delay [from a transmission line to Oklahoma City], but we didn't feel any delay. He died very peaceful, and that is a shame."
Broxterman was referring to another 232 surviving family members who watched the execution via close circuit television in Oklahoma City.
The 70-year-old Las Vegas resident said she was relieved that McVeigh did not make a final verbal statement.
"I didn't want to hear a word he said, and I wasn't interested," she said. If given the chance, however, Broxterman said she would say one short statement to McVeigh -- "Just burn in hell."
Broxterman's 42-year-old son was a federal agent killed in the bombing. Fulton is the sister of Paul Ice, 42, a U.S. Customs Service agent who died in the April 19, 1995, attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which left 168 dead.
With McVeigh's execution, Broxterman said, "It is over and it is done. I do have sympathy for his family. I think it is a terrible thing what he did to his family and the name McVeigh."
Fulton described watching McVeigh's execution as a "sense of a great weight being lifted off of my shoulders."
Fulton, 41, of Red Wing, Minn., said she was in downtown Oklahoma when the bombing occurred six years ago and testified for the prosecution in McVeigh's trial. Watching the execution "is just completing the circle. I was there for my brother Paul Ice," Fulton said.
The execution did not present any surprises for Fulton, who said she had talked with several other people who had witnessed executions.
"I knew what to expect. I know it is a very sterile environment, very fast and very easy. But, my focus is not Tim McVeigh or the death penalty; it is Paul Ice and the other 167 victims, and they were all with us in that room," Fulton said.
Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter Julie Marie Welch was killed in the blast, does not believe McVeigh's execution will bring healing. Welch, of Oklahoma City, is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and was on penitentiary property after McVeigh was pronounced dead at 7:14 a.m. Monday. Welch did not witness the execution.
"We have gone through a staged political event. It does nothing more or less for our society than that," Welch said.
Even his deceased daughter, Welch said, would oppose the execution.
"She would have been totally opposed to it. She was opposed to it, and she worked very hard to abolish the death penalty," Welch said. "We must join all of Europe and the rest of the world and move into the 21st century and abolish the death penalty.
"We have seen the support for the death penalty in the U.S. over the last 36 months drop from 79 percent support to 62 percent support. That is 17 percent, and that is huge. That is almost 1/2 percent per month. I think that we will eventually be able to convince enough people that we will be able to get past this ugly part of our history," Welch said.
Paul Howell, 64, of Oklahoma City lost his daughter, Karan Howell Shepard, 27, an employee at the Federal Employees Credit Union. Howell said he wanted to view the execution "because I have never actually seen the man, other than on TV or in a video. I am the type of guy that needs to see somebody face to face.
"I feel good about this. I know this man will never . hurt us again in any form or fashion," Howell said of the execution. "It was a big relief, a big sigh came over my body. It felt real good."
Sue Ashford, 58, worked across the street from the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. Ashford said she wanted McVeigh executed.
"He didn't deserve to live, but he didn't suffer at all," Ashford said of the execution. "The monster just went to sleep. I think they should have done the same thing to him that he did to those people."
Anthony Scott, 39, of Oklahoma City was a civilian supply technician in the U.S. Army recruiting office when he was thrown 15 feet across the room from the explosion at the Murrah building.
Scott said every individual is responsible for his own actions.
"This [execution] was for Timothy McVeigh. You can't judge the mind of anybody else to say that this might deter them from doing something as heinous as what he did. We don't know," Scott said.
Survivors of the bombing embraced and hugged each other after the execution, Scott said. While in the execution chamber, Scott said he had wished McVeigh could see his face.
"I wanted him to see me to somehow let him know that [McVeigh] didn't break the spirit that you were going to break," Scott said. "That we here representing the people that you unjustly took their lives, and you must pay for your actions."
Holding up his thumb and index finger to show the measurement of an inch, Scott said, "I feel about that much better, but we can't bring back the lives that we lost.
"This is one life for 168," Scott said.
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