Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript

CNN TV
EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN BREAKING NEWS

McVeigh Authorizes Execution Stay Request

Aired May 31, 2001 - 14:00   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.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story this afternoon, a life- or-death decision today for this nation's most infamous terrorist. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, has just authorized his attorneys to seek a stay of his June 11 execution.

They say the delay is needed so they can review thousands of pages of evidence recently turned over by the FBI. McVeigh met with his team at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he's being held. The announcement was just made a few moments ago. And CNN's Susan Candiotti is there -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie. That meeting took place for over the course of about two hours. Two of Timothy McVeigh's four lawyers meeting with him on death row at the federal prison in Terre Haute.

And they announced that very shortly they will be filing a 300- page motion under seal that will try to accomplish two things. Number one, they are seeking a stay before trial judge Richard Matsch to stop the June 11 execution. And they are also seeking hearing during which time they could present evidence they say, evidence that the Justice Department and the FBI continues to hold evidence from them in this case. Here is attorney Robert Nigh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NIGH, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: Mr. McVeigh has given us permission to seek a stay of execution on his behalf. This decision was not easy for Mr. McVeigh. He had prepared to die. And he was ready to day on May 16 of 2001. He had previously indicated he preferred death to life in prison without the possibility of release.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Mr. McVeigh's lawyers say that McVeigh fighting this battle they say on principle because they say he wants to restore integrity to the criminal justice system. They also add that McVeigh is arguing that the FBI is committing fraud by continuing to withhold information. As you will recall, the FBI has turned over more than 4,000 pages of material not previously available to them before the trial.

And the lawyers also indicate that they have information, which they will only describe generally speaking that certain people were interviewed during the course of this investigation, and yet there is no paperwork to back it up. Now, does that mean, for example, that indeed other people may have been involved in the bombing since, after all, Mr. McVeigh has told two authors that he acted alone in carrying this bombing? Well, the lawyers say what's important to note is this, that, for example, in the trial of Terry Nichols, a jury heard additional information and chose a different penalty at the very least. Here is attorney Richard Burr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BURR, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: If there were other people involved and the evidence of their involvement is credible -- and critically we can't even make those judgments until the FBI provides all the information they have -- then that evidence is something that certainly Tim McVeigh's jury would have wanted to have just as much as Terry Nichols' jury did have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: The U.S. Justice Department has consistently maintained that it has indeed turned over all information to the defense attorneys, that they are not holding anything back, that they have never held back anything intentionally, but blame their mistakes on poor management and problem with their computer system.

Furthermore, the Justice Department maintains that there is nothing in any information that they have that would raise any doubts about the conviction and the death penalty of Timothy McVeigh. Now it is up to trial judge Richard Matsch to decide, once he has these motions in hand, to decide how he is going to handle things and whether he will grant a stay and possibly a hearing before making a final call. Back to you, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Susan Candiotti there in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The next step takes place in Denver, Colorado. That's where attorneys for McVeigh will file a stay in federal court. That is where he was tried for his crimes. And that's where we find CNN's Gina London. Anything happening there, yet, Gina?

GINA LONDON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at this point, Natalie, although at any moment we do expect here at the federal courthouse other two attorneys for Timothy McVeigh, which would be Nathan Chambers and Christopher Tritico, to come here, either one or both of them, to file that motion, as Susan mentioned under seal, 40 pages of a motion, 300 pages of exhibits.

And then it will go to federal judge Richard Matsch, as you mentioned, who was the one who presided in the trial and, of course, oversaw the sentence of death. It will be up to him to decide whether or not there will be hearing on this and if there will be a stay of execution, perhaps how long.

Now, quickly, Judge Matsch is known as an evenhanded, methodical judge, and will not expect to be rushed in his decision on this. We expect if there is a hearing it will not be called until possibly as early as next week, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Gina London there in Denver waiting for the next step in this. We also expect we may get a statement from the Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding this development today. However, he is traveling outside the country, but did indicate he would issue a statement reacting to this. So as soon as we get something from his office, we will pass it along

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   


Back to the top