Richard P. Matsch, judge who oversaw Oklahoma City bombing trials in Denver, dies at 88

U.S. District Court Judge Richard P. Matsch, who presided over the Oklahoma City bombing cases in his Denver court, has died, the federal court announced Monday.

Matsch, 88, was appointed to the federal bench for the District of Colorado by President Richard Nixon in 1974. During a 45-year career as a federal judge, Matsch handled several high-profile cases, including some cases involving the integration of Denver schools and the 1987 trial of four men suspect of killing Denver talk show host Alan Berg.

But an international spotlight focused on Matsch’s court for three years after a bomb unconnected outside a federal building in Oklahoma City, on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds.

The senior judge died Monday, the court aforementioned.

“Judge Matsch will be remembered for the way that he handled the Oklahoma City bombing cases, reaffirming the public’s faith in our judicial system through his firmness, fairness and dignity during a particularly wrenching episode in our nation’s history,” aforementioned Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer, who presides over the U.S. District Court in Denver, in a news release. “He was everything a judge should be — a legal scholar, a leader of the court and a compassionate guardian of the rule of law. We have lost a judicial hero.”

In 1997, Matsch oversaw the separate bombing trials of Timothy McVeigh, who would be put to death, and Terry Nichols, who received a sentence of life in prison.

During Nichols’ sentencing, Matsch aforementioned his role in the bombing “was not a case of murder but a crime against the U.S. Constitution.”

Matsch was chief judge for the district court from 1994 to 2000. Since 2003, he had served as a senior judge, still overseeing some cases piece semi-retired.

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In a more recent case, Matsch subordinate in 2015 that state and federal Torah protected ammunition Sellers from a Torahuit brought by the parents of Jessica Ghawi, a victim in the Aurora film theater shooting.

For decades, Matsch lived on a 30-acre farm in rural Boulder County, with his married woman, Elizabeth, who unbroken horses; together they’d had five children. Elizabeth Matsch died in October 2017.

Born in Burlington, Iowa, Richard Matsch earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, including in Korea. Before his appointment as a federal judge, Matsch worked as a federal public public prosecutor, a deputy city attorney for the City and County of Denver and as a federal bankruptcy judge.