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McVeigh could be close to asking another delay

Defense attorneys for Timothy McVeigh say he is considering his options after newly found FBI documents led to his execution being postponed
Defense attorneys for Timothy McVeigh say he is considering his options after newly found FBI documents led to his execution being postponed  

By From Susan Candiotti
CNN Miami Bureau

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- Lawyers for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh said Monday they have received court permission to add two more attorneys to their team working on a possible motion to further delay McVeigh's re-scheduled June 11 execution.

McVeigh co-counsels Rob Nigh and Nathan Chambers announced they have now been joined by Richard Burr and Christopher Tritico, members of McVeigh's legal team during his 1997 trial in Denver.

The move could be a prelude to asking U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who presided at the trial, for another postponement of the execution. That decision is really up to McVeigh, however, and the lawyers have said only that he is willing to consider all options.

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"One of the questions we are frequently asked is whether Mr. McVeigh has authorized us to seek court relief in his behalf," Nigh and Chambers said in a news release. "His position has not changed. He is keeping his options open and will make an informed decision concerning the legal and factual information that we provide to him."

Nigh and Chambers previously said they would ask the court for more time if necessary to review the 3,000 pages of new material the FBI failed to turn over to them before trial.

Any request for additional funding from court-appointed attorneys must be made under seal to the trial judge.

The FBI's admitted document blunder prompted Attorney General John Ashcroft to delay McVeigh's original May 16 execution date at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Ashcroft said the delay was necessary to give McVeigh's lawyers time to review the paperwork. He said he would not grant another postponement. McVeigh's lawyers have the option of asking the court to reschedule the execution.

Last week during a hearing on Capitol Hill, outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh revealed the agency had discovered even more material that might include even more documents not seen by the defense.

The Justice Department has said the new material does not contain any information that puts McVeigh's guilt in doubt.

McVeigh himself has told biographers he acted largely alone in carrying out the bombing of the Murrah Federal building on April 19, 1995. The worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil killed 168 people including 19 children.

Lawyers for convicted co-conspirator Terry Nichols, who is serving a life prison sentence with no provision for parole, already have asked the Supreme Court to vacate a lower court's appeal rejection pending his review of the new materials.

Nichols' attorney Michael Tigar in a Supreme Court filing has suggested the FBI may have intentionally withheld some information from the defense. He said his suspicion came after reviewing some of the 3,000 pages, but Tigar was not specific.

Nigh, after visiting McVeigh with Chambers on death row last week, would not say whether he thinks the June 11 execution date will stand.

"I can't predict that," Nigh said.


• Federal Bureau of Investigation

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