Tags: McVeigh | Execution | Delayed | Until | June

McVeigh Execution Delayed Until June 11

Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM

The attorney general said the Justice Department's inspector general's office would conduct an investigation into how the documents and evidence came to be withheld.

Ashcroft said the Justice Department did not believe the production of the items of evidence would change the outcome of the case. McVeigh was originally scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday.

McVeigh, "by his own admission, is guilty of an act of terrorism that stole life from 168 innocent Americans, and these documents do not contradict the jury's verdict in the case," Ashcroft told reporters gathered for a televised news conference.

"However, I believe the attorney general has a more important duty than the prosecution of any single case, as painful as that may be to our nation," Ashcroft said. "It is my responsibility to promote the sanctity of the rule of law and justice. It is my responsibility and duty to protect the integrity of our system of justice."

The attorney general said U.S. prosecutors were not normally required to turn over such documents in most trials. The documents do not bear on McVeigh's guilt or innocence.

In the McVeigh case, however, "the government agreed to go beyond the documentation required," Ashcroft said. "It is now clear that the FBI failed to comply fully with that discovery agreement that was reached in 1996.

Ashcroft said he learned of the withholding on Thursday.

Asked whether the incident had "shaken" his confidence in the FBI, the attorney general did not answer yes or no, but instead repeated his commitment to a fair justice system.

An FBI computer review is believed to have discovered more than 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence that should have been turned over to the McVeigh defense team, but were "accidentally" withheld. The case itself involved more than a million documents and was one of the largest investigations in U.S. history.

McVeigh's attorneys in Denver and Tulsa, Okla., were notified of the problem Wednesday and Thursday in a letter from a Justice Department attorney.

"The FBI has discovered additional materials generated by its field divisions outside Oklahoma City in connection with the OKBOMB investigation," the letter said in part. "The materials consist of FBI reports of investigation ('302s' and 'inserts') and physical evidence, such as photographs, written correspondence and tapes ('1As,' '1Bs' and '1Cs')."

The letter said the department thought the material had no bearing on the federal convictions or sentences of McVeigh and fellow conspirator Terry Nichols, who was sentenced to life in prison.

"Many of the materials ... involve interviews and information regarding persons whom at one time were thought to resemble the [FBI artist] sketches," the letter said.

McVeigh, 33, was convicted of detonating a truck bomb next to the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 men, women and children and injuring hundreds more. He was captured during a routine traffic stop shortly after.

McVeigh was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997 in Denver, where the trial had been moved to ensure fairness. He is on federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind.

If the U.S. Bureau of Prisons carries out McVeigh's lethal injection next month, it would be the first federal execution since 1963.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The attorney general said the Justice Department's inspector general's office would conduct an investigation into how the documents and evidence came to be withheld. Ashcroft said the Justice Department did not believe the production of the items of evidence would...
McVeigh,Execution,Delayed,Until,June
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2001-00-11
Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM
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