- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday said the Justice Department will "vigorously oppose" any effort by Timothy McVeigh to further delay the convicted Oklahoma City bombers scheduled June 11 execution.
Mr. Ashcroft, who delayed the execution last month after the FBI admitted it had failed to turn over thousands of documents to McVeighs defense attorneys under a court-approved discovery agreement, said none of the now-released records raise any question concerning his guilt.
"Because these documents cast no doubt on the surety of his guilt, the Justice Department will vigorously oppose any attempt to further delay the imposition of the sentence," he said. "A jury determined that the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for McVeigh, and failure to carry out that sentence would deny justice for the victims of this crime and for the American people."
McVeighs Denver attorneys, Nathan Chambers and Robert Nigh, are expected to decide today whether to ask a federal court to further postpone the execution. They have been reviewing more than 4,000 pages of records the FBI did not make available to prosecutors or the defense during trial, including documents a former FBI agent said may have been useful to McVeighs case but were never turned over.
The attorneys will meet with their client today at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind., where he is scheduled to die June 11 by injection. They have also suggested they might ask a federal judge or the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver for a court order to further delay the execution while they continue to review the documents.
On May 11, Mr. Ashcroft directed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to delay the McVeigh execution to "ensure that every document which the prosecution agreed to provide … was produced and reviewed carefully by attorneys for McVeigh and the prosecution."
"After an exhaustive review, it remains clear that none of the belatedly produced material raises any doubt about McVeighs guilt," Mr. Ashcroft said.
McVeigh was convicted by a federal jury on June 2, 1997, in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 persons, including 19 children. On June 13, 1997, the same jury recommended death by injection, which was ordered by a federal judge on Aug. 14, 1997.
The 33-year-old former U.S. soldier has since admitted to the bombing and described the deaths of the children as "collateral damage."
The FBI acknowledged last month that it had failed to turn over 3,135 documents under the courts discovery order, despite 12 requests by prosecutors in Denver and FBI supervisors at the bureaus 56 field offices for a complete search for the records. FBI Director Louis J. Freeh then ordered a new search and 898 more documents were located. All of the material has since been sent to McVeighs defense team.
Last week, Mr. Ashcroft said that all of the documents had been located and reviewed and that none provided "a basis for believing the defendant to be innocent."
The attorney general declined to outline specifics of the missing records, but said some involved photos from a swimsuit calendar from a person under psychiatric care, letters involving information about "nonphysical beings," offers by psychics to contact dead victims for information about the bombing, and a handwritten letter offering unspecified information in return for a cash reward.
Attorneys for McVeighs convicted co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, already have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. In a motion, Washington lawyer Michael Tigar told the high court that the FBI intentionally withheld evidence that could have helped Nichols, although he did not elaborate in the filing.
Mr. Tigar has petitioned the court for an emergency hearing to reconsider its April 16 denial of Nichols request for a new trial. He proposed that the justices not overturn Nichols conviction for conspiracy and manslaughter, but that the case be sent back to the trial judge for a review of how the newly discovered FBI documents would affect his client.


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