McVeigh execution witness list climbs to 300
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The group of witnesses who will watch the scheduled May 16 execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on closed-circuit television has gotten larger, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, about 300 people -- either family members of the 168 people killed in the April 19, 1995 bombing or those who were injured -- confirmed to the Justice Department they wanted to see the closed-circuit telecast from Terra Haute, Indiana. That's about 50 more witnesses than had indicated possible interest in watching the execution when the government conducted an initial survey in February.
After a visit to Oklahoma City by Attorney General John Ashcroft, officials selected the Federal Transfer Facility as the site there for the victims to witness what will be the first federal execution since 1963.
Justice officials then asked for firm commitments from the Oklahoma City residents by May 1 so authorities could proceed with plans to provide the live transmission from the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute.
Witnesses in Oklahoma City will see McVeigh make his final statement while strapped on a gurney, hear the final execution order given by a U.S. marshal and watch as the lethal injection is administered. A prison official Wednesday estimated McVeigh would be dead within eight to 15 minutes. The video feed will begin when the curtains to the execution chamber are opened and conclude when they are drawn to ensure that the remote witnesses see the same thing as the on-site witnesses.
Ten victims of the bombing were selected by the Justice Department to travel to Indiana to watch the execution from a viewing room beside the death chamber. Officials Wednesday said another group of "approximately 10 individuals" intend to travel to Terre Haute at their own expense, despite rules which allow only 10 victim eyewitnesses to view the execution.
According to the Justice Department, those individuals say they want to be present in the city where the execution is taking place, even though they will not be able to see it. Officials promised to provide a separate private area for these individuals to gather, but no closed-circuit telecast of the execution.
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