Ashcroft will not delay McVeigh’s execution date


WASHINGTON, Reuters

By James Vicini WASHINGTON, Reuters U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Thursday he would not delay Timothy McVeigh’s execution because nothing in 4,000 pages of newly discovered FBI documents casts any doubt about the Oklahoma City bomber’s guilt or his death sentence.

“June 11 is the date on which the execution will be carried out,” Ashcroft told a news conference as he released a report he said showed the documents, only recently given to defense lawyers, contained nothing to question McVeigh’s guilt.

“None of these new documents raises any doubt about the proven and admitted guilt of Timothy McVeigh,” Ashcroft said. McVeigh was convicted in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, which killed 168 people.

On May 11, just five days before McVeigh had been scheduled to die by lethal injection, Ashcroft delayed his execution by 30 days after the FBI said it discovered an initial batch of 3,100 pages of documents that had not been provided to defense lawyers during the discovery phase of his 1997 trial.

“The first delay of this case was necessary for this review (of the FBI documents) by lawyers for the defense and the prosecution,” Ashcroft said. “A second delay in this case would ignore the evidence and the facts in the case.”

“The American people can have confidence that all documents now have been identified and produced and that nothing in any of these documents undermines McVeigh’s admission of the murder of 168 of his fellow American citizens or nothing in these documents undermines the justice of his sentence,” he added.

McVeigh is on death row at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. His lawyers are weighing whether to seek another delay in his execution, to seek a new trial or to challenge his death sentence.

On Thursday, one of his attorneys, Robert Nigh, said McVeigh had not made up his mind.

Nigh also said McVeigh should not be put to death before an investigation determines why the FBI papers were missing.

“Certainly I do not see how the attorney general can suggest that Mr. McVeigh’s execution should occur before that investigation is completed,” Nigh told local television outside his Tulsa, Oklahoma, office.

Ashcroft said McVeigh’s attorneys have had “ample time” to review the documents, even as he detailed how an additional 898 pages of FBI documents only recently had been turned over.

He said 63 pages of Oklahoma City documents were produced on Thursday, 405 pages from various FBI field offices were turned over on Wednesday, 327 pages of Denver documents were produced on May 18 and 103 pages of Baltimore documents were turned over on May 15.