- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2001

New signs are emerging that Timothy J. McVeigh has changed his mind and will resume a court fight for life with less than three weeks left in his month-long reprieve from execution.
Two attorneys appointed to help him in his final days werent talking to reporters yesterday, but they confirmed in writing that their legal team doubled in size on Monday.
In addition to getting two more lawyers, Robert Nigh Jr. and Nathan Chambers also were granted more federal funds by U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who had sentenced McVeigh, 33, to death in 1997. The Oklahoma City bombing case already has cost taxpayers more than $75 million.
Houston attorneys Richard H. Burr III and Christopher L. Tritico, who assisted at McVeighs trial, rejoined the battle after Judge Matsch signed orders Friday and Monday authorizing money to pay the growing legal fees.
"We believe that Mr. Burr and Mr. Tritico are uniquely qualified to assist with the work that must be performed on Mr. McVeighs behalf," said a note signed by Mr. Nigh and Mr. Chambers.
They sidestepped recurring questions on McVeighs intentions about resuming the appeals that could keep him alive for years, even if he loses in the end. "He is keeping his options open and will make an informed decision concerning the legal and factual information that we provide to him," said the attorneys written statement in a reference to the boxes of new documents recently obtained from FBI offices from Honolulu to Paris.
A week ago, on what was to have been McVeighs execution day, he spent five hours reviewing the documents with his attorneys, who declared him in good spirits and taking an active role in decisions.
"Its certainly not an exercise in futility," said Mr. Nigh, who reportedly obtained at that meeting McVeighs permission to appeal. He has not denied that report.
Legal analysts predict no prospects for acquittal or even a new trial, particularly after McVeighs admissions in interviews for a book and in a handwritten letter to Fox News that was published in The Washington Times. But they say the document debacle gives him a chance to get a new sentencing hearing at which any one jurors holdout regarding the death penalty would spare his life.
Until May 11, McVeigh was adamant that he wanted the sentence carried out without further ado. Then FBI agents revealed that his attorneys had not been shown thousands of documents from their investigation, as required under an unusual agreement.
Michael Tigar, the attorney for McVeighs co-defendant, Terry Nichols, has charged the FBI knowingly withheld some of those papers from prosecutors as well.
McVeigh went to the Supreme Court with his plea that the government withheld evidence and a claim of juror misconduct, but the justices rejected those arguments on March 8, 1999.
In that appeal, McVeighs attorneys pleaded unfair treatment, saying, "The rules of law may be applied on a sliding scale when the crime is unspeakable and public outrage is great."
"It is so easy to say 'no to Timothy McVeigh," Mr. Burr said then.
Judge Matsch turned down a second appeal in October 1999 and McVeigh gave up without even going to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In December he told Judge Matsch he didnt want to sit in an 8-foot by 10-foot cell for years thinking about his impending execution by injection, the sentence Judge Matsch meted out on Aug. 14, 1997.
After questioning McVeigh about his decision via a two-way television hookup, the judge permitted him to drop all remaining appeals despite contrary advice by his attorneys.
Both lawyers, who rejoined the defense this week, assisted Stephen Jones, of Enid, Okla., during McVeighs trial. Mr. Burr also worked on McVeighs direct appeal, the first step in what is usually a long road of litigation before a murderer can be executed.
McVeigh was convicted of federal murder for killing eight federal officers in their official capacities when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. He was not tried directly for the other 160 deaths or estimated 700 injuries, but those casualties were part of separate federal conspiracy and weapons convictions.


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