Timothy McVeigh's lawyer liked his mass murderer client so much that he considered him a friend. But Ted Bundy's attorney resented the serial killer so strongly that the case convinced him some people are born evil.
Those are just some of the relevations from a panel of prominent defense attorneys held Monday night in advance of Oxygen’s new series “In Defense Of,” premiering June 25 at 9/8c.
The lawyers who represented McVeigh, Bundy and Branch Davidian cult member Clive Doyle, who survived the 1993 Waco siege, spoke at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Chris Tritico, who represented McVeigh, said the question he is most often asked is how he could like a guy who killed 168 people and injured more than 600 in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He said he often responds that when an attorney spends so much time with a client, a relationship naturally develops.
“I liked Tim McVeigh,” said Tritico. “He was friendly, nice, funny, and extremely intelligent.”
Tritico said he even saw the domestic terrorist as a friend.
“He wasn’t going to ever come to my house for Thanksgiving, but he was a friend,” he said.
The defense attorneys all agreed that one of the hardest parts of the job is watching someone who they represented die from capital punishment. Tritico did not watch McVeigh die of lethal injection in June 2001, but he recalled a man he represented who was given the death penalty and asked him to be present. Tritico explained if he hadn’t been there to witness the execution, there would have been no one who cared about the man present in the last moments of his life.
Meanwhile, Bundy’s attorney John Henry Browne said he "did not like" his client. Browne's girlfriend was murdered in the 1970s in Berkeley, California, which made it difficult on a personal level to represent a man who had murdered more than 30 young women across four states, he said.
Feeling a sense of duty, Browne explained that “the Constitution can’t exist for everyone except for Ted Bundy.”
But that didn't mean the job was easy.
“I did not want to believe that people are born evil, but Ted Bundy changed that,” said Browne, recalling an occasion when Bundy said Browne was his attorney because the two were “so much alike.”
“I almost quit that day,” Browne said.
Doyle’s attorney, Dan Cogdell, believed his client was innocent upon their first meeting. Doyle, along with 10 other Branch Davidians, faced murder and conspiracy charges in the deaths of four federal agents who raided the Waco compound. They were all acquitted.
Doyle “didn’t know an air gun from a BB gun,” said Cogdell. “It took me about 30 seconds to see he was innocent… He couldn’t spell conspiracy, much less be a part of one.”
“In Defense Of” will give viewers a unique point of view with first-hand accounts from the high-profile defense attorneys who participated in the panel, as well as Kirk Nurmi, who represented Jodi Arias.
Each episode will detail the evolution of the attorney and client relationships and have viewers questioning their own preconceptions of each case. It will tackle issues like the personal moments between attorneys and clients, and the staunch belief in protecting rights for all Americans, even those who confess to the most horrific acts.
According to Browne, five percent of accused criminals are wrongfully convicted. “I hope this show makes people think about that, and I think it will,” he said.
(Pictured, from left: Chris Tritico, John Henry Browne and Dan Cogdell)