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McVeigh document review may wrap up next week

Defense attorneys for Timothy McVeigh say he is considering his options after newly found FBI documents led to his execution being postponed
Defense attorneys for Timothy McVeigh say he is considering his options after newly found FBI documents led to his execution being postponed  

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (CNN) -- FBI agents may complete their review next week of newly discovered materials relating to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation, government sources told CNN on Friday

Sources said "extra manpower" has been added to the FBI's OKBOMB task force to complete the job.

The FBI will not reveal how many additional documents were sent to the task force in Oklahoma City by its field offices nationwide after outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh ordered a final "shakedown" last Friday.

Government sources said the agency is also reviewing the more than 3,100 pages already turned over to convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh's defense team last week. The sources said after a partial review, the FBI discovered that some of those pages had previously been given to the defense, but they would not say how many pages were already turned over or what information they contained.

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While the FBI tries to ensure it commits no further mistakes, McVeigh's defense attorneys continue to scour the materials they've had for nine days.

The lawyers won't say what their next move will be. But they did say recently they may go to court to ask for more time to review FBI documents if they can't conclude their work by June 11 -- the date Attorney General John Ashcroft set for McVeigh's execution. McVeigh's execution was originally scheduled for May 16.

Nichols seeks Supreme Court help

Meanwhile, one of the attorneys for McVeigh's Army buddy Terry Nichols, who is serving a life term for involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy related to the bombing, filed a declaration with the Supreme Court Thursday. It was released by the court Friday.

In it, Nichols' trial attorney Michael Tigar alleges the FBI may have intentionally failed to do some required paperwork to keep possibly exculpatory information from the defense before the Nichols' trial.

"We have reason to believe that the FBI agents may have consciously failed to memorialize interviews in the form of FBI 302 reports, in order that their work not be discoverable," the filing states.

The Justice Department said that unless the Supreme Court asks it to respond to the filing, it had no comment on the matter, according to Justice spokeswoman Chris Watney.

The FBI forms in question are standard forms which summarize witness interviews from agents' notes.

Tigar said he has found two instances from the documents he's reviewed so far that call into question the nature of a government cross-examination of a defense witness.

"We do not suggest that the prosecutors were behaving unethically, rather, it appears that the FBI hid from them the evidence that the defense was presenting truthful, reliable evidence," Tigar states in the filing.

FBI spokesman John Collingwood said the FBI's review of the documents does not show that.

"During this exhaustive review, we have seen no evidence that suggests any intent to withhold evidence from defendants," he said. "To the contrary, the intent has always been disclosure beyond that called for by law. That was true before the convictions and, from everything we have seen, remains true today."

Nichols' defense team has told the Supreme Court it seeks to throw out the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection of their request for a new trial, based on the FBI's actions.

State prosecutors await documents

Unlike McVeigh, who has admitted that he planned and carried out the bombing, Nichols has consistently maintained he is innocent.

In January, 1998, a jury found Nichols guilty of conspiracy in the bombing and guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Trial Judge Richard Matsch sentenced Nichols to life in prison.

The state of Oklahoma is trying Nichols for the deaths of the 160 victims not included in the federal government's case, which indicted both Nichols and McVeigh for the deaths of eight federal agents killed in the blast.

Prosecutors in that case have delayed a pre-trial hearing originally scheduled for next week because they have not yet received the newly discovered McVeigh materials.

The Justice Department reportedly has promised to deliver those files next week.

CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena contributed to this report


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