Prosecutors oppose delay in McVeigh execution
DENVER (AP) – Federal prosecutors urged a judge Monday not to delay Timothy McVeigh’s execution, saying that he admitted the crime and is ”undeniably guilty” despite thousands of newly released FBI documents on the Oklahoma City bombing.
”Rather than answer for his own proven and admitted murderous conduct, McVeigh would like to put the federal government on trial,” prosecutor Sean Connelly said in court papers.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch will hear arguments Wednesday on McVeigh’s request to postpone his June 11 execution. The judge sealed a portion of the government’s filing.
McVeigh has claimed the government committed a ”fraud upon the court” by failing to turn over nearly 4,500 pages of FBI material on the bombing before his 1997 trial. McVeigh asked for a postponement to see if the documents offer grounds for seeking a new trial and to force the government to explain its failure to turn over the material.
In a strongly worded response, Connelly argued that the material has no bearing on McVeigh’s conviction and death sentence because he confessed in a book and said he and co-conspirator Terry Nichols acted alone.
”Timothy McVeigh does not and could not suggest he is actually innocent of the charges of which the jury convicted him,” Connelly said. ”He does not and could not suggest the death penalty is unwarranted for his exceptionally aggravated crimes.”
McVeigh has identified nine items he claims could have helped his defense, but none prove his innocence, Connelly said. Under the anti-terrorism law under which McVeigh was convicted, he cannot receive a new trial unless he has strong evidence of his innocence, the prosecutor said.
”McVeigh is undeniably guilty and there is no case in which the death sentence can be more appropriate than this one,” Connelly said.
McVeigh was convicted of murder and sentenced to die for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.
McVeigh, who is at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., had dropped all appeals and was set for lethal injection May 16. But six days before, the Justice Department began turning over more than 4,400 pages and 11 CDs of FBI material that should have been given to McVeigh’s defense.
Defense attorney Richard Burr said last week that McVeigh decided to seek a stay because he ”has been deeply concerned about the overreaching of federal law enforcement authorities” and thought the last-minute disclosure of the documents overrode his earlier decision not to fight execution.
In a related development Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a ruling in Nichols’ request for a new trial, saying the government must first respond to his assertion that mishandled evidence in McVeigh’s case adversely affected him.
The court’s decision raised the possibility that the justices would reopen the case involving Nichols.
Nichols, 46, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in federal court of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy. Prosecutors in Oklahoma have brought state murder charges against Nichols in hopes of winning a death sentence.
On the Net:
Portion of government’s response to McVeigh’s request: http://www.co.uscourts.gov/dindex.htm
Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov
Bombing material: http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org
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