Court blocks execution videotaping


PHILADELPHIA, AP

A federal appeals court has overturned a judge’s order that Timothy McVeigh’s execution be videotaped for an unrelated case alleging the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment.

On Thursday, a day before the appeals court’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill had granted the request to tape McVeigh’s execution, set for Monday.

The request came from lawyers in an unrelated case who are trying to show the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Weis Jr. on Friday blocked the videotaping order until a panel of three circuit judges in Philadelphia could consider it.

The Justice Department is fighting against any videotaping, citing a federal regulation that prohibits any photographic, visual or audio recording of executions.

McVeigh’s execution by injection in Terre Haute, Indiana, will be the first federal application of the death penalty since 1963.

McVeigh lawyer Chris Tritico said a defense attorney in the Pennsylvania case contacted him to ask if McVeigh would mind the videotaping.

“I discussed it with my client,” Tritico said on CNN. “He said he would not oppose the videotaping or the use of it in that case.”

The ruling by Cohill involves a federal death penalty case against Joseph Minerd, who was charged with rigging the pipe bomb that killed his ex-girlfriend and her daughter. Minerd was charged under the federal arson and bombing law that was also used in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

A message left for an attorney representing Minerd was not returned, and it could not be learned if a further appeal was planned.

Weis said the tape would be used as a record that would potentially be shown to a jury, but would not be distributed.