McVeigh’s lawyers weigh options


WASHINGTON, AFP

Attorneys for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh sifted through 3,100 pages of freshly released FBI documents Saturday to see if they contained grounds for appeal of his death sentence, while Attorney General John Ashcroft joined President George W. Bush at Camp David.

Ashcroft on Friday said his Justice Department would investigate why the Federal Bureau of Investigation had failed earlier to give McVeigh’s lawyers the documents before the 1997 trial in which he was condemned to death — a sentence now held in suspense as the lawyers consider whether the new evidence warrants an appeal.

McVeigh lawyer Robert Nigh said Friday after visiting with the condemned killer, that his client “is going to make an informed decision upon the information contained within the documents.”

“He is keeping all of his options open,” Nigh said.

On Saturday, a lawyer for Terry Nichols, convicted of helping McVeigh carry out the April 19, 1995, bombing of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah federal building, said that on the basis of the FBI’s blunder his client has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider his prison sentence.

“We cited (in the rehearing petition) that the new information should compel the court to return the matter to the court of appeals, who could return it to the district judge,” said Michael Tigar, lawyer for Nichols, sentenced in 1998 to life in prison on federal conspiracy charges and manslaughter.

McVeigh has admitted he carried out the bombing which killed 168 people in what is considered the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil. He had previously dropped all his appeals, saying he would rather be executed than spend years in prison.