Judge Denies McVeigh Delay Request
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch said newly released FBI documents make McVeigh no less guilty in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building that killed 168 people.
“I find there is no good cause to delay the execution,” said Matsch, who also presided over McVeigh’s 1997 trial. “Whatever in time may be disclosed about the possible [actions] of others, it will not change the fact that Timothy McVeigh was the instrument of death and destruction.”
Defense lawyers said they will appeal the ruling immediately. A spokesman for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a panel could rule on any challenge in three hours.
Lawyers for McVeigh said federal officials knew six months ago that documents had been withheld from the McVeigh trial, but had failed to do anything about it until six days before the original May 16 execution date.
They said information in those documents could have affected the outcome of McVeigh’s trial if they had been released.
“The FBI has done far more damage to the finality in this case than McVeigh or his counsel could do,” attorney Robert Nigh told the court today.
Prosecutors argued the documents contained no information that would have swayed the jury’s opinion in the case, saying a delay in McVeigh’s execution would amount to a delay in the jury’s “reasoned, moral judgment.”
Previously unreleased documents from the Oklahoma City case, including notes and transcripts from interviews, were found at various FBI offices last month. Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed McVeigh’s execution, originally scheduled for May 16, to give defense attorneys time to review the documents.
In testimony before Congress, FBI Director Louis Freeh admitted that not turning over the documents promptly was a “serious error” on the agency’s part.
Ashcroft announced May 24 that all documents in the Oklahoma City case had been located and turned over to McVeigh’s defense team.