McVeigh asks that appeal be stopped, execution date set

DENVER - Timothy McVeigh asked a federal judge to stop all appeals of his conviction in the Oklahoma City bombing and to set a date for his execution.

In a federal court filing made public Tuesday, McVeigh said he wanted to waive further review of his case by the courts. However, he reserved the right to seek executive clemency, his lawyer said.

McVeigh was convicted of murder and conspiracy and sentenced to death in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people and injured more than 500.

If he is put to death, it would be the first execution of a federal prisoner in 37 years.

The former Army soldier asked that his execution date be set within 120 days of his Dec. 7 statement, which was filed with the court on Monday.

Justice Department spokeswoman Chris Watney declined to comment on the request.

McVeigh has filed two unsuccessful appeals, and his lawyers had been researching additional challenges.

McVeigh acknowledged that he submitted the statement against the advice of his attorneys, but he said he believes he is competent to make the decision. He said he would undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation if necessary.

''I will not justify or explain my decision to any psychologist, but will answer questions related to my competency,'' he wrote.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch could approve McVeigh's request, reject it or order a competency hearing first.

McVeigh attorney Nathan Chambers said his client was reserving the right to petition for executive clemency, but he wouldn't comment on their discussions.

Andrew Cohen, a legal analyst who has observed all of McVeigh's court proceedings, said the latest move was consistent with McVeigh's anti-government views.

''I think he always perceived himself to be a political person, and this would be the ultimate political statement, to give up his appeal and become a martyr,'' Cohen said.

In an appeal decided in March 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court left intact McVeigh's conviction and death sentence, rejecting his contention that his trial was tainted by jury misconduct and news reports that he confessed to his lawyers. In October, Matsch denied McVeigh's second appeal, which contended trial attorney Stephen Jones failed to represent him adequately.

McVeigh's former Army buddy, Terry Nichols, was convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy and sentenced to life in prison.

Marsha Kight, whose daughter was killed in the blast, said she wanted McVeigh to ''rot in jail.''

''I will not be one of them who goes to see him executed. Putting him to death will not bring my daughter back,'' she said.

''It's not that I don't think that he doesn't deserve to die. I just think it is too easy. I have to live with this the rest of my life. He should have to live with it the rest of his life.''

McVeigh's decision surprised Duane Miller, 59, of Oklahoma City, who survived the bombing.

''This has drug on for five-plus years. He's fought tooth and nail every step of the way,'' Miller said. ''I'm curious to see what made him change his mind.''

Jannie Coverdale of Oklahoma City, whose two grandsons died in the bombing, said: ''I want him executed, but still there's nothing to celebrate.''

Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter Julie Marie Welch was killed in the blast, has been an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

''The day Tim McVeigh is taken from that cage in Indiana and put to death is not going to bring Julie Marie Welch back and is not going bring me any peace or anybody in this nation any peace,'' Welch said.

''God did not make us so that we feel good about killing a caged human being. It's not part of the healing process.''


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