Fed up: Federal Judge Richard Matsch's decision to move the Oklahoma City bombing trial to Denver, his home court, triggered an explosion of publicity too loud to ignore--an explosion that could propel the trial right back out of Denver.
At least, that's the rationale of Timothy McVeigh's chief defense counsel, Stephen Jones, according to a story first reported in this week's Oklahoma Gazette. "I'm beginning to think that in another thirty days, we'll have to ask for a change of venue out of Denver," Jones told staff writer Phil Bacharach. "I'm seriously considering that."
Media-driven "hysteria"--including all those offers to house victims' families in response to pleas on KOA and in the Denver Post--could contaminate the jury pool, Jones says. "No one can question opening one's heart and home. That's not the question," he told Bacharach. "What is questioned is the feeding frenzy over it. What is happening here is the gathering of a lynch mob under the guise of concern for the victims, and the impact upon a trial is devastating."
Or so says the defense attorney. If Jones does ask for a change of venue, he told the Gazette, he's going to suggest the trial be moved to Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Although Bacharach's story suggested that prosecutors are taking Jones's threat seriously enough to have asked Colorado officials to keep a low profile, Matt Sugar, spokesman for Governor Roy Romer, says he's unaware of any such entreaties. Last week, however, the governor joined U.S. Attorney Henry Solano and Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter in announcing the formation of a coalition to coordinate help for bombing survivors during the trial. "We must come together and support those who've suffered so much," Romer said. "But we want to remain very calm about how to approach this trial."
Flour power: New Denver Post editor Dennis Britton started Monday (which means he's nominally responsible for this doozy of a front-page headline on Tuesday: "150 Die in Disco Inferno"). But his entrance was presaged by the Friday delivery of an expensive set of office furniture and greeted Monday by a sheet cake courtesy of King Soopers. Britton sent it out to the newsroom, which prompted one wag to announce, "Let them eat cake."
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More than a few reporters have been making cakes of themselves with their alleged coverage of the baggage system at Denver International Airport--a situation that blew up into two full-fledged lawsuits this week. Guess things aren't running so smoothly at DIA, despite all those happy birthday stories. Another sheet cake played a prominent role at the airport's one-year anniversary party, this one doled out in pieces by city officials to the traveling public. The city's just lucky the cake itself didn't arrive in pieces: It was flown in from Seattle.
Always bite Colorado.
And the winner is: Not Colorado, when the Academy Awards are announced next Monday. The deadly Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead didn't do much to make Denver look lively.
Better luck next year, maybe. Stephen King's The Shining is now filming (in a TV version) up in Estes Park (although Wings star Steven Weber is no Jack Nicholson), and Danny Glover and Dennis Quaid are popping up at various locations around the state as they make Going West in America. The state hasn't seen this much activity since the glory days of two decades ago, when Centennial and The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (vintage George Segal!) both filmed here.