Children of Oklahoma City bombing victims — hailed as “portraits of our survival” — read victims’ names Monday as survivors and relatives marked nine years since the devastating blast.
The solemn observation at the Oklahoma City National Memorial began at 9:02 a.m., the minute the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed by a fuel oil and fertilizer bomb on April 19, 1995.
They observed 168 seconds of silence, one second for each of those who died, before children began reading the names.
“These children, like all of you and our city, are portraits of our survival,” said Frank Hill, chairman of the foundation that supports the memorial, which is built on the site where the Murrah building once stood.
“Thousands come to this memorial every week to find peace, hope and serenity,” Hill said Monday.
A memorial service also was scheduled in McAlester, Okla., where bombing conspirator Terry Nichols is on trial on state murder charges that could bring the death penalty if he is convicted. Survivors and members of victims’ families planned a private observance at noon at the First Baptist Church, located behind the courthouse.
Meanwhile, Nichols' trial entered a fifth week, Before the start of testimony Monday, prosecutors said they expected to finish their case on May 3 or May 4, six weeks after they first began presenting evidence.
Nichols’ attorney Brian Hermanson said the defense will begin presenting its case May 6.
Prosecutors have called 105 witnesses to testify. About 180 witnesses were on the prosecution’s witness list.
Nichols, 49, is serving a life sentence on federal convictions for his role in the bombing. He was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers.
Nichols is on trial for 161 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of the other 160 victims and one victim’s fetus. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
On Friday, FBI agent Steve Smith testified that he and other FBI agents interrogated Nichols for nine hours on April 21, 1995, two days after the bombing.
Nichols told investigators three times that he did not have bomb-making materials in his house in Herington, Kan., Smith said.
During the search, investigators found detonation cord and other explosives they said were similar to components used in the bombing.
Nichols was at home the day the bomb exploded. But prosecutors allege he helped executed bomber Timothy McVeigh build the homemade 4,000-pound ammonium-nitrate-and-fuel-oil bomb and pack it inside a Ryder truck the day before.