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CNN BREAKING NEWS

McVeigh's Lawyers May Ask for Stay of Execution

Aired May 10, 2001 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bill Hemmer live at the CNN center in Atlanta. Breaking news tonight regarding the Tim McVeigh case: the FBI now admits it did have additional files that did not make it into the hands of attorneys who represent the convicted bomber. This new development may, repeating may, have an impact on McVeigh's execution scheduled for next Wednesday morning.

CNN's Major Garrett at the White House tonight with more on this. Major, what are we learning from the nation's capital?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bill, CNN has obtained a statement released by the Justice Department. Allow me to read it to you: "Once the government was made aware of the documents, they were turned over to the defense. They are not material to the case, and have no bearing on the outcome of the conviction. If the defense disagrees, they will contact us."

The key word for attorneys and for non-attorneys alike is "material." The Justice Department is saying they are not material to this case, meaning they're not relevant to what the jury had before it to decide whether or not Timothy McVeigh was guilty or innocent. That is the key phrase in this statement released by the Justice Department. A government official tells CNN that at this hour, there has been no request made by the McVeigh defense team for a stay of his scheduled execution -- Bill.

HEMMER: Also, Major, are we learning from the Department of Justice as to where and why these files were not turned over at an earlier date?

GARRETT: No. No details on that, only the fact that it was discovered, this very embarrassing miscarriage -- now, miscarriage is sort of a technical word, an inflammatory word, but certainly a mistake on the part of the team of prosecutors dealing with the McVeigh case, the most high profile case, certainly, the Department of Justice has dealt with in years.

The mistake was discovered. It was remedied in the effect that these documents were given to the defense, but it is the central contention of the Justice Department that though this mistake was made, those documents affected by the mistake are not material to the case, would have made no difference in the jury's deliberations about whether or not Timothy McVeigh was innocent or guilty; and that, according to the Justice Department, if the defense team disagrees, it's their obligation to contact the Justice Department and see what legal options lay before both sides.

HEMMER: All right, Major. Major Garrett from the White House tonight. Major, thanks.

Just for the record, next Wednesday morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, is the scheduled time and date for the execution of Tim McVeigh. We want to repeat, we do not know whether or not that execution will be impacted by this revolution (sic) tonight. However, we'll stay on this story.

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