Oklahoma governor: 'Don't worry' about execution delay
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (CNN) - Oklahoma's governor urged patience Saturday after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's execution was delayed for a month.
"This individual will not be on this planet mocking us, lecturing us, and heckling us and making fun of our children that he murdered. Don't worry," Gov. Frank Keating told CNN.
Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed McVeigh's execution Friday after learning that FBI officials failed to turn over about 3,000 pages of documents to lawyers in the case.
The explosion at Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people. McVeigh has publicly admitted to carrying out the attack.
His execution is now set for June 11 at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The delay upset some families of the bombing victims and survivors of the attack, the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
McVeigh has previously waived all appeals in the case, saying he preferred to die rather than spend his life in prison. Attorney Robert Nigh met with McVeigh on Friday and afterward said McVeigh is considering his options and might decide to fight his execution.
Paul Howell, whose son was killed in the bombing, said it was "real difficult" to prepare for the execution -- "and then they turn around and they kick you in the hind end."
"You've got to just sit back and relax a little bit more and just get re-prepared for it again," Howell said.
Added bombing survivor Paul Heath: "It's been an emotional roller coaster for everybody." But he said a delay was all right "until everything is cleared up."
It was only in late April that it became clear the documents had never been turned over to lawyers for the prosecution or the defense, an FBI official said -- and FBI Director Louis Freeh was not notified until this week.
The FBI documents included summaries of interviews and physical evidence, such as photographs, written correspondence and tapes.
Archivists began compiling information about the bombing last December, the FBI official told CNN. At least one field office suspected as early as January that some documents in the McVeigh case had not been entered into the agency's database system.
By March, a cross-check of documents with a central database confirmed those suspicions and showed that some documents had never been entered into the database, the source said. (Full story)
Larry Mackey, who prosecuted McVeigh, told CNN that the FBI's discovery of undisclosed evidence in the case was "a disappointment."
Government officials say the documents are a small fraction of the millions of pages of evidence collected against McVeigh in the bombing, and nothing in the files is likely to exonerate him.
"This was the largest criminal investigation ever undertaken by the FBI," Mackey said. "So the prospect that a tiny fraction -- and indeed that is all this is -- was lately discovered, it's not implausible. But nonetheless, it is important for them to have time to review it."
Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, said the documents are unlikely to raise any doubts about McVeigh's guilt. But the McVeigh case could raise questions about other, less prominent death-penalty cases, he said.
"This was an incredibly high-profile case -- one could not even imagine a more high-profile case -- and look at the fact that we had this major screw-up," Gerhardt said. "What concerns me most is not ultimately about the justice in this case, but what happens in other cases when no one's looking.
"If a screw-up could happen in a big, high-profile case like this one, imagine the corners that were cut and the possible screw-ups that can occur in a case where no one is watching," he said.
McVeigh's convicted co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, plans to appeal his conviction and life sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court following the FBI revelations, his lawyer, Michael Tigar, told CNN.
"This is what the FBI does -- they lie to the prosecutors. We've caught them doing it again and again and again," Tigar said.
"Terry Nichols was acquitted of most of the charges against him. He's got a real defense here, and this could be the thing that makes the difference," Tigar added. (Full story)
The congressional committee with oversight over the FBI sent a letter last month to Freeh saying it is "concerned that the FBI has information technology systems that are slow, unreliable and obsolete -- systems that are unable to address the Bureau's critical needs."
The House Judiciary Committee letter, which was provided to CNN, asks Freeh to give an evaluation of the problems "plaguing" the bureau's computer system and an assessment of what can be done to fix them.
FBI spokesman John Collingwood on Saturday acknowledged that the bureau has problems with its record system.
"There is complete agreement within the bureau, the Department of Justice, the administration and Congress that the FBI's automated record system is antiquated and based on obsolete technology," Collingwood said.
The FBI has taken steps with congressional authorization to address the bureau's computer problems, Collingwood said, but there remains "a total lack of internal confidence and a lack of ability to do basic data searches." (Full story)
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