In the 2005 edition of Indiana Super Lawyers Magazine, we got to know Larry A. Mackey of Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. Before his career in private practice, Mackey made a name for himself as an assistant U.S. attorney. Among the many cases he prosecuted, perhaps the biggest was that of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols–the Oklahoma City bombers.
Culminating an investigation and prosecution costing an estimated $82 million, Mackey gave the closing argument in late May. In between, the government presented a strong circumstantial case that McVeigh assembled and triggered the bomb as an act of protest over the government’s role in Waco and the shooting at Ruby Ridge.
“He was a very bright guy, well-spoken, and he had his finger on the pulse of the defense,” Mackey says of McVeigh. “There clearly was a deep, inbred seed of suspicion and hatred of the federal government.”
The jury deliberated three days before returning guilty verdicts and recommending the death sentence. Mackey never will forget what happened next. “We came out of the courthouse, we hit the courtyard, and the sidewalks were full of people, traffic had stopped, and people were leaning out the windows, and the team walks out to this thunderous applause.”
Mackey was ready to return home. Attorney General Janet Reno had other ideas. She asked to meet with Mackey and his wife. Reno convinced them Mackey was the man to serve as the chief prosecutor in the federal trial of Terry Nichols.