ENID, Oklahoma, AP
Timothy McVeigh’s former attorney has said that the Oklahoma City bomber’s execution could bring him martyrdom and create a wider forum for his anti-government views.
Stephen Jones, who led McVeigh’s defense team when he was convicted and sentenced to death on federal bombing charges, said McVeigh’s scheduled May 16 execution in Terre Haute, Indiana, was giving him a public platform he would not have if he were sentenced to life in prison.
He said he believes McVeigh wants to inspire others who share his views.
“Look at what hell one man caused. Look at what you can do,” Jones said in an interview with The Associated Press. The bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others.
Jones also repeated his contention that the April 19, 1995 bombing was part of a conspiracy and that McVeigh is lying when he claims sole responsibility. He said McVeigh’s death will prevent authorities from learning the names of his co-conspirators.
“Tim McVeigh is a clever, manipulative, cunning person,” Jones said. “Tim McVeigh is certainly capable of elaborate lies. I’m not going to be silent when he lies, which he has.”
Terry Nichols was convicted on federal conspiracy and manslaughter charges and sentenced to life in prison. Michael Fortier is serving a 12-year federal sentence after pleading guilty to having prior knowledge of the bombing plan but not alerting authorities.
But Jones said he believes others were also involved, and that McVeigh has remained silent to protect them.
“He was a member of a terrorist group and terrorist groups protect their members,” Jones said. “I don’t think the truth will ever come out.”
Although he has had no contact with McVeigh for three years, Jones said his thoughts will be with his former client during the execution.
“I think he’s terribly frightened, terribly afraid,” Jones said. “He has a goal larger than his life. He is willing to die for that goal.”